Thank you, Antwerp Ghostwalk, for getting in touch this week with the following information about two special walks for English speakers, one of which is happening this Friday:
We have a new storyteller: Lieven is a true fan of Anglosaxon ghostwalk traditions and has toured the U.K. to experience many different urban ghost tours. We combined his passion with our longstanding expertise in providing entertaining English language ghostwalks, balancing ghostly atmosphere with some typical Antwerp flair and peculiar local folk stories. This brings the original “Antwerp Ghostwalk” to a new level.
Another event of interest to English speakers is the Philosophy Café in Den Hopsack bar, between 2pm and 5pm – it’s a discussion group: no previous experience necessary, just order a beer and join in, or listen.
In Koning Albertpark there’s a free Winter Lights Festival festival from 3pm until 11.30pm with performances, music, DJs and games. Children may bring lanterns, and the park will be illuminated with lights as it gets darker.
It’s the first Sunday of the month so shops in and around the centre town will be open for “Winkel Zondag”. NB. many shops open a little later on Shopping Sunday; usually at midday.
There’s music in the cathedral on the first Sunday of each month too, in the Sacraments’ Chapel at 4pm. This is free to residents of Antwerp (on provision of proof that you’re a local). I believe an ID card counts as evidence if the place of issue is Antwerp. Otherwise it is 6 euros to go in (indeed the Cathedral is always free to Antwerp residents).
If you are feeling in need of a bracing cycle ride to round off your week, join Critical Mass: assembling at 6pm on Theaterplein for an hour’s cycling en masse through the city (pic right, from Critical Mass Facebook page).
For those who prefer a stroll, explore the Borgerhout area through the lens of its art works: Borger #15 is an art event where participating galleries, within walking or cycling distance of one another open for the evening. The galleries open for Borger #15 are: Zeno X Gallery (Godtsstraat 15); DMW Art Space (Koolstraat 15) ;The Arts Institute (Kattenberg 93); Base-Alpha Gallery, Antwerp (Kattenberg 12); Eva Steynen.Deviations (Zurenborgstraat 28) and they are open between 6pm and 9pm.
Avoid the cold by heading to MAS museum for an afternoon of social game and game-playing. This a free event, aimed at families and kids, and it’s on from 10am -5pm.
Monthly show Swaajp Invites is on at BATS Little Theatre on Paardenmarkt. Beata Rozalska from Poland is the impro group’s guest performer this week. Tickets available here.
There’s a mega indoor rommelmarkt at Kinepolis Event centre, from 10am -6pm. 3 euros entry
After the snow this week, it’s going to continue to be cold, with the possibility of snow and showers over Saturday and Sunday
I recently went to DIVA Diamond Museum for the first time to catch the Axel Verwoordt exhibition: WonderKamer. It’s magical, so if you want to stay out of the cold and see some beautiful, eccentric, curious and elegant objects and art works, I thoroughly recommend it.
Last week I published a special post by Daniel McBrearty. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a lively and fascinating account of the history, ideas and current expo behind the Plantin Moretus museum on the Vrijdag Markt: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550.
Legends of Liondance continues at Permeke library as part of the approaching Chinese New Year festivities. This is a colourful display of the lions which lasts until 10th February, and is free.
BATS panto is now virtually sold out! … apart from Sunday EVENING (17:30pm) performance at Theater ‘t Eilandje. Tickets are available via the BATS VZW website.
Legends of Liondance begins at Permeke library today as part of the approaching Chinese New Year festivities. This is a colourful display of the lions which lasts until 10th February, and is free.
And if you fancy an old-school date, classic film The Italian job is on at Cinema Zuid. This is such a nice venue to watch classic movies, and -at 5 euros – much cheaper than the corporate cinema multiplexes. I recommend checking out the cinema, and their program. Cinema Zuid is in FOMU (the photography museum).
On Saturday afternoon, from 1pm the Astridplein (next to central station) will be transformed into a tulip field containing tens of thousands of tulips from Flanders: you can come and pick some for free, until 4.30pm.
Similar to the Leopold Sundays (see below), Artland sees galleries around the Eilandje area open their doors and also offer a New Year’s drink to visitors, as well as a chance to see the works on display in the art-spaces around MAS. Free, from 1pm -6pm
It’s the first Boeken Plein of 2019 at de Coninckplein in front of Permeke Library: second hand books, magazines, postcards and graphic novels for sale from 10am -4pm. This event takes place monthly on the third Sunday of every month.
Not far away around the Leopoldplaats area, it’s another Leopold Sunday: seven galleries open their doors simultaneously enabling you to enjoy for free a variety of local art exhibitions between 2 and 6pm.
The weather will feel pretty cold, but Friday and Sunday should have some periods of brightness. Possibility of showers.
This week I published a special post by Daniel McBrearty. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a lively and fascinating account of the history, ideas and current expo behind the Plantin Moretus museum on the Vrijdag markt: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550.
January in Antwerp wouldn’t be complete without the BATS panto! This year it’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (oh, yes it is!) at Theater ‘t Eilandje, and tickets are available via the BATS VZW website.
NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
A trip to the Plantin Moretus museum (left) provided the inspiration for this guest post by Daniel McBrearty.
Are you deluged by data, fazed by fake news, or stressed out from trying to find a teaspoon of facts in a sea of information? What you need is some historical perspective, and Antwerp’s Plantin Moretus Museum is the perfect place to find it …
Christophe Plantin, a native Frenchman and Humanist who became a powerful Antwerp businessman, could reasonably be called the Steve Jobs of the 16th century. He founded one of the three most important printing presses in Europe, and by 1550 he was one of the biggest publishers in the world, with sixteen operational presses and employing fifty people. The technology he used, along with much of his considerable wealth and countless books, are lovingly preserved in the Plantin Moretus Museum, on the Vrijdagmaarkt.
As well as physical artefacts, the Museum has done a wonderful (and timely, given the impact of the internet on our own times) job of placing Moretus’s considerable influence in a historical context. Their current exhibition, “Baroque Book Design”, fuses the work of Rubens and others -as part of the city’s the publishing industry- with insightful observation on social conditions of the time.
After Plantin’s death, the business was taken over by Jan Moretus, his son-in-law, and the family continued to dominate European publishing for the next 150 years. The printing press was a real challenge to the Catholic church, which had relied on the inability of an illiterate public to interpret the Bible without the help of priests. Gutenberg’s invention broke forever that monopoly of belief.
Books – now twenty times faster to produce, and much cheaper- became more widely available. An information revolution as big as our own, was underway. Schools of language, medicine, science and religion serviced a knowledge-hungry public, and created huge demand, which the Plantin-Moretus family was more than willing to supply. With a technology based on pouring lead into stamped copper moulds to make type, which was then manually assembled into pages, their team of craftsmen produced, over several years, a staggering 500,000 copies of one small book of language exercises – this being just one of countless volumes from the house.
Revolutions of belief soon led to violence, followed by a formidable backlash from the Vatican. Europe was beset by rebellion and repression. Catholic Spain and the Protestant Netherlands went to war, and Antwerp caught right between them. As well as Bibles in many languages, The Plantin Press had been publishing translations of Latin and Greek philosophers, and works which spread new scientific research. But a crackdown from the church forced an end to the dissemination of such dangerous ideas. The Plantin-Moretus family, however, were clearly astute diplomats as well as businesspeople, managers, and technicians. Not only did they survive, they became at various times, official printers and typographers to the Dutch, the Spanish and the Church.
Then, as now, the real benefits of the new technology were not immediately felt by common people. In fact it took several hundred years, and much argument and bloodshed, before they led to real improvement in living conditions.
As well as his beautiful drawings and engraved copper plates, the Museum possesses many paintings by Rubens, who was one of the favourite illustrators used by the Moretus family. Everywhere you feel his portraits gazing at you. His subjects included (as well as the nobility and the clergy) workers at the house. For me, they show an honest astuteness which lesser artists lack – rather like a modern artist such as Milo Manara, he has the rare ability to capture something of the soul of his subjects.
Entrance to the Museum is inexpensive (6€ or 8€ depending on age), or free with an A-kaart. Staff are friendly and helpful, and on a weekday the space is fairly uncrowded. You can take refreshment in one of Vrijdaagmaarkt’s excellent cafes and restaurants and then stroll back in with no problem. Photography is permitted without flash.
So, if the internet revolution has left you dazed and confused, or if you simply fancy an entertaining, thought-provoking few hours, I highly recommend Plantin-Moretus Museum. After all, we’ve been here before, and it helps to be reminded of that.
Daniel McBrearty is a father, jazz clarinet and sax player, singer-songwriter and electronics whiz who has made his home in Antwerp since 2001.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s the first of the regular posts for 2019. January can be a quiet time but there are a few things on to ease you into the new year.
Start your weekend with New Year’s Drinks on Theaterplein (pic right), courtesy of Aper’eau.
I went to see the “de Wolkenbreier’s” (The Cloudknitter’s) pictures at the bar Rode 7 on Sint Jansplein last weekend. Well worth a look, and a good chance to get acquainted with this lovely Antwerp bar (which also serves good food) if you do not already know it. The finissage will take place from 7pm -11pm
There’s the annual Kerstboomverbranding (Christmas tree burning) from 5pm on Frederik van Eedenplein. You can warm yourself by the fire with a glass of Cava or gluhwein or a snack. This signals the end of all the Winter In Antwerp festivities.
January in Antwerp wouldn’t be complete without the BATS panto! This year it’s Snow White (oh, yes it is!) at Thetaer ‘t Eilandje and tickets are available via the BATS VZW website.
After some controversy regarding the date this year, Monday 14th January is “Verloren Maandag” (“Lost Monday”) -a Belgian tradition explained in this recipe post which I found. Expect sausage rolls and appelbollen at your local baker.
Although this is the first what’s-on post for 2019, Nessascityblog did publish this special post/ interview with Leandro from Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. You should also look out for another special post coming to Nessascityblog on Monday – all about the Plantin-Moretus museum, detailing Antwerp’s special place in the history of publishing, and reviewing of the current exhibition.
Need a productive new year’s resolution that doesn’t involve giving up something you enjoy? Let 2019 be the year you write your Antwerp story for Nessascityblog! Please get in touch with your idea. I’d love to have more guest posts, reviews, tips, personal stories and accounts connected to the city of Antwerp.
Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?
I’m from Mendoza, in western Argentina. My city is the proud wine capital of South America and lays at the feet of the Andes.
I first came to Belgium in June 2016 for holidays and during that trip met my spouse, who is from the Netherlands. Ten months later we were married in Antwerp!
Tell us about your job.
I’m the Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. I simply love my job: I’m responsible for the 100% of the sales figures of our cafe (groups, leisure, corporate and individuals) and contracting with business partners. Being the spokesman and image of the brand in the Flemish region, I plan, budget and execute the yearly event calendar. I’m also responsible for the marketing communication of our cafe.
You are right at the heart of an area very popular with tourists. What’s that like and how is the tourism business faring in Antwerp at the moment?
We are indeed at the core of everything that happens in Antwerp. Tourism figures are growing considerably every year in the city, but at the moment there is a big focus on the business traveler, weekdays and weekend visitors from neighbouring areas who come mainly for shopping, people interested in the cultural aspects of the city, and plenty of foodies. Like many in the hospitality industry, we’re aiming for major growth in the long-stay leisure traveler segment, mainly the international one. That is certainly one big area of opportunity compared to other destinations in the Benelux, and hopefully with the increasing number of cruise ships calling at the port of Antwerp, there will be much better results.
Can a place like Hard Rock be something that is both for locals and tourists, or do you think of them as being very separate demographics?
Combining the two of them is the exact key for what an authentically genuine Hard Rock Cafe must be. We are a worldwide well-known reference for tourists, and as such our cafes are an attraction. But the strength of our business resides in the local community; both Flemish and expats. Therefore our events and initiatives welcome everybody, without putting our guests into boxes. Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp is our house, and that’s how we like to be seen.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
2019 is a year full of ambitions for us as a cafe. In March we will have been open for two years and that is something we’re immensely happy about. My personal and professional goal is to enhance our fans’ experience, and create genuine experiences that rock. Undoubtedly it will be an amazing year!
What do you like best about living in Antwerp, and what do you miss about your home country?
I totally love that Antwerp is such an international city; a hub for business, its also offers plenty of heritage and culture, as well as amazing shops and museums to visit, and I love the fact that is so beautiful. I’ve lived in many countries before coming here, and been out of Argentina for more than seven years… I wouldn’t say I really “miss” something about my country because I receive visits from friends and family at least once a month, and I go to Argentina twice a year. The nature over there is breathtaking, so I try to reconnect with that every time I’m back.