VIDEO | Handelsbeurs or Bourse of Antwerp


Recently after a long renovation process and years of neglect the Handelsbeurs or Bourse of Antwerp reopened. But the neo-gothic hall isn’t open 24/7 to the general public. I attended a Christmas concert to be able to go inside.

The Bourse of Antwerp is the world first financial exchange. The Royal Exchange, London is built based on the model of it.

From 1531 the old bourse was given a new building. For half a century this stock exchange would be the focal point of European trade and the model for cities with similar ambitions.

The Antwerp Stock Exchange was closed at the end of 1997 and taken over by the Brussels Stock Exchange.

Architecture and styling

The first building in Brabant’s late Gothic style dates from 1531, after a design by Domien de Waghemakere. A rectangular open space was enclosed by a colonnade covered with star and net vaults.The gallery concept of this building served as a model for the London Stock Exchange, designed by Hendrik van Paesschen, as well as for Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Lille.

After a fire in 1583, it was immediately rebuilt to the same plan.

The Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585) and the surrender to the Spanish Army of Flanders completely ruined trading life.

Between 1661 and 1810 the building was used, among other things, as a drawing academy and seat of the Saint Luke Guild.

After a second fire in 1858 had once again destroyed the building, the Antwerp city authorities twice organized a design competition in which the old concept had to be preserved.

The current building was finally realized in 1872 by architect Joseph Schadde. It is a remarkable combination of the neo-gothic style and revolutionary techniques, in particular the metal construction for the covering of the interior.

With its closure in 1997, the building lost its function and was abandoned and neglected.


As a fan of heraldry I noticed the many coats of arms. If I saw well, as they’re high u, these were coats of arms of countries existing before German Unification (1871). So next to The Netherlands, Belgium, Napoleon III‘s France etc there were Hesse, Saxe-Coburg and Hanover amongst others.

With the help of Wikipedia.

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