Special post: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550

NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.

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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.

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Antwerp was at the centre of an information revolution

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.

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The museum is also a favourite of my daughter

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.

Music website :  www.danmcb.com

Audio electronics : www.mcbeeaudiolabs.com

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This weekend in Antwerp: 15th, 16th & 17th June

Just a brief post this time as I am away (again) and starting my summer holidays with a weekend in Namur (insta pics will be hashtagged #nessascityblognamur – last weekend’s were #nessascityblogaachen)

HERE IS THE GOOGLE MAP -it includes all the venues listed for World Cup Football, and for the Jazz Kroegentocht.

silhouette-3178763_640Friday

Alfresco drinking to start the weekend takes place at Apereau Boeienweide this week -just across the water on Linkeroever, from 5pm. Take your bike and enjoy the fiets tunnel.

Alternatively check out CoSintAndries Jazz Kroegentocht– (jazz pub tour): eight bars between the Sint Andries neighbourhood and the Schippenkwartier bring you live jazz music from 8.30pm. See the link to check the program and plan your evening: it’s all very walkable from bar to bar -these bars are all marked on the Google Map for this post.
And very happy holidays to students and staff at Antwerp International School who start their summer break today!

 

Saturday

swaajplogoImpro theatre from local group Swaajp: Swaajp Invites Gael Perry (France) at 8pm at the BATS Little Theatre.

Sunday

Regular fixture for bibliophiles Boekenplein takes place at de Coninckplein just in front of Permeke Library from 10am -4pm: second hand books, magazines, graphic novels, picture postcards and children’s books at low prices.

More second hand bargains at Goegekregen’s Rommelmarkt in ‘t Park (Park Spoor Noord) from 9am- 6pm

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If you are feeling sporty check out the Antwerp Triathlon at Eilandje, or just go along to support the participants and enjoy the atmosphere. If you are not familiar with this part of town (near the city’s iconic MAS museum) it will be a good day to check it out as there will be DJs and a foodmarket as well as the sporting activities. There is even a free Kids Triathlon organised by Jespo: register your child(ren) here 

Temperatures this weekend are predicted to be between 21 -23 degrees. It should be dry and warm, but cloudy

politieprideMiscellaneous

As Pride month begins, and in preparation for Antwerp Pride (August), iconic locations around the city are lit in rainbow colours this weekend! Look out for the rainbow version of the Stad Antwerpen logo (right), and posters with the motto “In Antwerpen Kan Iedereen Stralen” (“Everyone Can Shine In Antwerp”).

Tickets for the ticketed events on the Zomer van Antwerpen agenda are now for sale via the program page of  the ZVA website.

The OLT (Rivierenhof) has a summer music program. Info and tickets here.

The Baroque Antwerpen program is now underway and continues until January 2019.

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Sinksenfoor (annual funfair) is underway in Park Spoor Oost and it is HUGE. We went  and had a great time. It’s on until 24th June. And you can print out some vouchers for deals and reductions on rides & food here.

For World Cup Big Screen action try the Irish Bars (An Sibhin, Molly’s, Irish Times & Kelly’s). Games are also being shown on the big screen at Dagerraadplaats, The Hyundai Fan Village, Bar Nord, Bar Leon and at de Koninck brewery. Some games are showing at Bocadero. Here is the schedule of World Cup matches. Do you know of other fun venues to watch the games? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

 

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This Weekend in Antwerp: 25th, 26th & 27th May

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It’s Antwerp Art Weekend all weekend. Take the opportunity to discover some of the many galleries  and art spaces around the city. Here is the agenda for the weekend, and don’t forget to swing by de Studio, which functions as a hub for the event, and provides information and directions about what is happening as part of Antwerp Art Weekend.

Here’s the Google map you need for this weekend!

Friday

Critical Mass assembles on Theaterplein at 6pm to mark 20 Years of Critical Mass in Belgium with an hour’s cycling through the city.

Flying Pig is on Grote Markt from 5pm

Saturday

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 22.14.26At Bocadero (Waagnatie) it’s Feria Andaluza -a festival of Spanish culture, which is free to enter, and which continues on Sunday. It’s open from 12- 12. Enjoy traditional music, dance, food and drink from Spain.

Also showcasing its national -the Thai Embassy are hosting a Thai Weekend on Groenplaats, also over both days from 10am – 7pm. Dance, music, food and handmade Thai products will be available at over 70 stands on Saturday and Sunday.

It’s the ABC-markt (Antiek, Boeken, Brocante & Curiosa) at Den Beulebak from 11am -5pm.

If you are feeling energetic, it’s the Rivierenhof Run 2018 and if you did not register, you can do so on the day between 12 and 3pm. Kids run for free.

And London Calling celebrates all things Morrisssey and The Smiths at Ampere. Come and enjoy the tunes of England’s favourite musical curmudgeon, along with other Britpop tracks.

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London Calling at Ampere

 

Sunday

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Feria Andalusa is open from 12 -10pm (see above).

Thai weekend continues on Groenplaats.

Billed as a ‘slice of New Orleans on The Schelde’ Brasspartij 3 takes place at Harmonie Park thought other styles will also be represented:  funk, balkan, ska, drum’n’bass … as five Belgian bands battle for the winning title, from 1.30pm onwards.

 

 

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Photo by Murat Ustuntas on Unsplash

Kite flying enthusiasts will enjoy this Vlieger Happening on Linkeroever from 1.30pm featuring some professional kiteflying stunts, kids entertainment and the chance to make your own kite if you do not have one. Vlieger Happening takes place on the Middenvijver (August van Cauwelaertlaan).

And art lovers will be pleased to know that Lambermontmatre is starting up again for the summer. This monthly art market showcases and offers for sale the work of local artists, painters and photographers. There’s a Ricard bar, as well as other drinks and snacks. There’s also always live music (2.30pm and 5pm) and a relaxed atmosphere, just right for a warm Sunday afternoon.

Finally, best wishes and congratulations to Grade 12 students of Antwerp International School for the graduation ceremony today!

The weather is predicted to be warm again (21 -22 degrees) though with some clouds. There may be a little rain on Friday.

Beyond Nessascityblog

It’s been really great to have worked with other interesting people recently. I’ve been pretty busy!

Firstly I wrote  Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

Next I wrote this guest post  about 5 Antwerp destinations for the blog Discovering Belgium.

NonnativeblueyellowLast Monday, I was delighted to publish a guest post by Laura Soave of Nonnative – a must-read if you are new or recently arrived in Antwerp.

I also thoroughly enjoyed myself in conversation with comedian Nigel Williams  of Stand Up Antwerp. You can hear the podcast of that conversation here. It is the first of a new series of weekly podcasts that Nigel is working called “Babbel Without A Cause” about members of the expat community inAntwerp.

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Stand- Up Antwerp

I was also interviewed for The Bulletin and look forward to sharing that soon.

Anyway, this all serves of a reminder of how nice it is to work with others, so if you have an Antwerp idea for Nessascityblog that you would like to contribute, or something you would like written for your own publication, please get in touch.

Miscellaneous

Next Wednesday is the last of the month, so Antwerp city museums are free on that day (30th May)

Sinksenfoor (annual funfair) is underway in Park Spoor Oost and it is HUGE. We went last weekend and had a great time. It’s on until 24th June. And you can print out some vouchers for deals and reductions on rides & food here.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 4th, 5th & 6th May

There is so much on all of a sudden -Zomer van Antwerp has not yet officially started, but the sun should be shining this weekend and it is starting to feel like Antwerp is getting its summer on, so here is your GOOGLE MAP so you can catch some rays at all the locations mentioned in this post …

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Diamond museum DIVA holds its grand opening weekend, starting Friday. If you have not been able to book one of the hour long slots, you might still want to swing by Suikerrui “and join in the festivities

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Until 6th May (Sunday) its Amateur Arts Week (Week Van De Amateurkunsten). Search the link for events in your area.

And it’s Belmodo Fashion Days , also until the 6th (Sunday). These are fashion and designer stocks sales taking place at participating outlets (listed on the Belmodo site). A chance to grab a designer bargain or pick up something unique from a local or Belgian designer …

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Abelone Wilhelmsen/ Belmodo Fashion Days

Abelone Wilhelmsen (right) is a local designer based in Borgerhout, taking part in Belmodo Fashion Days.

 

 

Friday

Hungry? Picnic on Theaterplein between midday and 2pm. Organised by Broederlijke Delen and Oxfam Wereldwinkels, bring your own food and don’t waste what you have: the purpose is to raise awareness of food waste.

Antwerp locals will be familiar with Aper’eau, providers of alfresco summer drinks, music and food. On Friday from 5pm they begin their season with the summer kick-off event on Grote Markt

 

Saturday

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Shout out to our favourite international school, who hold their unmissable International Day event just once every two years, making it extra special (particularly as this year is the 50th anniversary of the school). Experience the countries and cultures that make up this diverse learning community of young people, families and staff, as they showcase food, activities, performances and music from around the world, from 10am -5pm on the school’s campus in Ekeren.

It’s Dag van de Gever in Antwerp’s second-hand stores, so a good time to make space and take down unwanted goods which are in good condition to one of the “Kringloopwinkels” in the city. Get a free potplant, and the chance to win a weekend away. There are 8 shops in the Antwerp area: Abdijstraat 104, 2020 Antwerpen-Kiel; Bredabaan 397, 2170 Merksem; Kapelsestraat 237, 2950 Kapellen; Kroonstraat 166, 2140 Borgerhout; Sint-Jorispoort 29, 2000 Antwerpen; Venstraat 153 b, 2900 Schoten; Vosstraat 305, 2100 Deurne and Bredabaan 651, 2930 Brasschaat

A choice of street parties back in town: it’s the Marnix Feest (pic below left) on Marnixplaats from 2pm, where there will be a street party, complete with kids’ entertainment, music, food and drinks until 10pm or the Twintig Achtien free festival (pic below right, courtesy of Twintig Achtien) along the Konijnenwei from 13.30.

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Sunday

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so … Sunday shopping in and around the city centre.

Go and discover creative Berchem at the Made In Berchem and learn why it is becoming a hotspot for innovative and artistic ventures taking place in these locations around the district. Map and brochure to download here.

It’s the annual PVDA Divercity Festival at Park Spoor Noord from 2pm -8pm. Music, food and a footie tournament. Also in Park Spoor Noord it’s the Pink Ladies Games.

Open Werven Dag opens up construction and development sites in and around Antwerp to the public. This is more interesting than it might sound (if you are someone who is often frustrated by the amount of construction which seems to take place around the city, you might feel averse to visiting an actual construction site). Last year, we went on a cool below-ground tour of the Noorderlijn works. This year, I’m thinking of seeing this building.

Goegekregen are holding a Vinyl Sale at HAAR from 10am -5pm and Swan Market are on Grote Markt from 11 -6pm.

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It’s to be a weekend of sunshine, with increasingly warmer temperatures – getting up to 23 degrees on Sunday!

 

 

Miscellaneous

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Stad Antwerp website

I’m pleased to share this blog post: Three Great Spots For When The Sun Is Shining which was published last week on the Stad Antwerpen website and optimistically describes three places in the city you might want to check out if the weather holds out …

Open- air swimming pool De Molen is now open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from  midday until 6pm.

Summer bars now open: Bar Jardim and Bar Paniek.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 23rd, 24th and 25th February

meugHERE’S THE GOOGLE MAP FOR THE LOCATIONS MENTIONED HERE.

I’m looking forward to tasting festival MEUG this weekend. It’s on both on Friday and Saturday at the Zuiderpershuis. I went last year with friends and we had a good time. It works really well in this spacious and airy venue and the atmosphere was friendly and laid-back, with a wide variety of stands to please both beer and whiskey enthusiasts. At time of writing, there are still tickets available.

 

Also over both days at Kinepolis, The 2018 International Minerals,  Precious Stones and Fossils Expo.

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ACAM

For this post, I’m doing something a little different by giving it a market focus, so there is an Antwerp Market on each of the three days below. I’ve chosen a different one for each day.

Friday

The Vrijdag Markt (Friday Market) takes place -unsurprisingly -on Fridays, and on the Vrijdagmarkt, a small square that you can get to by turning off either Reyndersstraat, Kammenstraat or Hoogstraat in the old town. You can find various types of jumble and bric-a-brac at this small weekly market. This square is not so well known to tourists, even though it is right by the Historic Centre. If you are on Vrijdagmarkt, it’s a good opportunity to hang out at any of the small bars which surround the square or to visit the Plantin Moretus museum.

Critical Mass are extending the Valentine love to this Friday. Their monthly bike ride will have a romantic theme: show your love for Antwerp and for cycling freely and safely in the city by showing up as usual at 6pm with your bike for an evening 8km bike ride, starting and ending at Theaterplein.

ghostwalkIf you like stories of phantoms, spirits and things that go bump in the night, you will be pleased to learn that Antwerp Ghost Walks have some tours coming up in English, including this one today: meet at the Lange Wapper statue (Steenplein) at 8pm. Cost: E12.50 pp.

Saturday

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Antwerp Market on Theaterplein

Antwerp’s largest weekly market (pic above) takes place on Theaterplein every Saturday. It is a regular fixture in the agendas of many locals. It’s a lot more than a place to pick up your weekly fruit and veg (although its great for that too!) as it is also a spot where locals stop and socialise and meet friends. Since the “roof” was installed on Theaterplein in 2008, rain no longer spoils the market experience. The food stands are hugely varied: Greek, Moroccan, Spanish, Italian… You can pick up fantastic cheeses, spices, fresh pasta tapenades and breads to take home, but should also take time to stop to enjoy oysters & cava, coffees and teas, mini- waffles, wraps or tapas at any of the stalls which have seating and standing areas. If you prefer to sit inside, there are some many bars and cafés all round Theaterplein: my favourites are Belgian Wines (great wine and cheese -all from Belgium), Nellies (coffee, ice cream, shakes and hopefully they still do that tasty poached egg and avocado toast) and Fabrik, a bistro-style bar/ restaurant which also often has live music on Friday night if you find yourself still in the area,

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Sint Nicolaasplaats

The ABC Market (Antiques, Books & Bricabrac, Curiosa) takes place on the last Saturday of the month. It’s mainly -but not solely – about the books, and takes place in a pretty courtyard (pic right, from Google streetview) towards the university district.

Gardeners and growers: the Ecohuis “Seed Library” is re-opening. You can take seeds to plant yourself, and are requested to bring seeds back in from your own harvest, to contribute to the library. From 1pm- 5pm.

 Sunday

Another well established Antwerp market is the Sint Jansvliet Sunday market offering bric-a-brac, small antiques, second hand homeware, jewellery, curiosa  and glassware. Again it is located in a square surrounded by bars, but it’s also right in front of Antwerp’s voetgangers tunnel (the square building on the Schelde side of Sint Jansvliet) The Pedestrian Tunnel goes under the river and is for those travelling by foot or by bike. If you haven’t been down there, you should take a look and cross over to Linkeroever on the other side of the river.

Miscellaneous

Temperatures are cooler than last weekend, but it should remain dry, and there will be some periods of sunshine.

Did you know about Ecce homo Antwerpen ?

Next Wednesday is the last of the month so that means that city museums are free. This link shows you which museums that includes.

If you are a runner, you can now register for the Antwerp Ten Miles which takes place on  the 22nd April.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 2nd, 3rd & 4th February 2018

Hello February!
Here’s your GOOGLE MAP for the first weekend of the month …

Friday

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 19.52.20Antwerp Pateekesweek starts today, and continues until 11th February. During Pateekesweek, various bakeries, patisseries, coffee & tea houses take part, and the idea is to allow cake-lovers to sample a variety of treats at different places. To take part, you buy a Pateekes Pas for 10 euros which has 10 bonnetjes (vouchers) on it. These can be exchanged in the participating venues which are listed here and you can buy the Pateekes Pas at the tourist offices on Grote Markt or at Antwerp Central Station.

At the Permeke Library the free exhibition Legends of Liondance (featured image) opens as Chinese New Year approaches. It’s on until 25th February. I recommend this as I went last year with my kids. It’s also a good chance to see the relocated children’s section of the Permeke library.

Saturday

At 3pm on Sint Paulusplaats it’s Winters Geluk -a free event with music, dancing and a winterbar until 22h.

Recently re-opened De Studio is showing the film Gruwelijke Rijmen (“Revolting Rhymes” -inspired by the children’s poetry of Roald Dahl) on both Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are 7 euros (5 for under 21s and over 65s).

Pssst! … rugby fans: they’re showing The Six Nations in The Highlander bar on Stadswaag from midday, and also at Irish bars An Sibhin on Nationalestraat; and Molly’s on Jezuietenrui

Sunday

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It’s the first Sunday of the month so shops are open on Meir, The Quartier National, and elsewhere around the city centre for Sunday hopping (aka. Winkelzondag). The pop-up shops on the second floor of Stadsfeestzaal (De Nieuwe Natie) are opening again with  6 new outlets after a bit of refurb work, and will be there until April.

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

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This month sees the start of some blog posts that I am writing for Visit Antwerp this year. Check out my FIVE FEBRUARY FAVOURITES

 

 

Spanish speakers and learners -see below for the Febrero agenda for Colectivo Amorikafebrero-03

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