The unique tower of of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp has been freed of scaffolding.
In recent weeks, the scaffolding around the tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady was demolished after the complete restoration of the exterior. Now the largest Gothic tower in the Low Lands can be admired again in all its glory.
At the beginning of 2019, the city started the restoration of the exterior of the large tower (belfry tower) of the Antwerp Cathedral that it manages. Almost four years later, this titanic work has been completed and the iconic tower is once again fully visible to residents and visitors in the Antwerp skyline.
Natural stone, pointing and gilded elements
All natural stone was gently cleaned, checked and where necessary restored or replaced. The contractor used just over 100 cubic meters of new natural stone, the French limestone Massangis Roche Jaune Clair. He also placed more than 750 bouchons or indemnities. That is the local replacement of pieces of natural stone where possible, to avoid having to replace an entire block.
In addition, the contractor locally renewed the jointing of the upper half of the tower; in the lower half, given the poor condition, he had to completely renew the jointing.
The dials, the weather vane and the cross have been restored and re-gilded in a workshop. For example, the weather vane has been on the spire again since October 2020 and since July of this year everyone has been able to read the time on the historic dials from 1861.
Because efficient use could be made of the scaffolding, the still functioning, but outdated lightning conductor was also replaced during the construction period. 1077 meters of new copper pipes ensure that lightning is diverted and cannot cause damage to the tower.
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, some unforeseen circumstances resulted in an extension of the construction period:
- The amount of natural stone to be replaced was much larger than initially estimated. Only from the scaffolding and after cleaning the facades could all the damage be mapped.
- A replica of the cross was made because the existing one was in too bad a condition to restore. The city has donated the old cross to the cathedral so that it can be displayed in a museum for the public.
- At a height of 100 meters, local cracks were found in the natural stone near the anchoring of the tension anchors (5th articulation vault). Tensile anchors ensure that the pillars of the vault do not buckle outwards due to the horizontal force (splash force) exerted on them. The complete replacement of these four pairs of tension anchors was necessary.
- A buttress/flying buttress of the spire is added to the vault of the stair turret on the second gallery. The upper layers of stone under the vault were in very bad condition and had to be replaced. This could only be done if the load reduction of the buttress on the vault was temporarily diverted beforehand.
- In July 2022, the carillon was put back into use and carillon music once again sounded in the city. After a while, however, a carillonneur noticed that one of the bells sounded dull. After investigation, it turned out that the bell tower had sunk a little locally due to wood rot (an earlier press release about this can be found here). Since there are 47 carillon bells with a total weight of approximately 20 tons hanging in the belfry, replacing the damaged beams without removing the bells was not an easy job. The result is a beautiful piece of traditional joinery in which the bell tower has been returned to its original state.
To celebrate that the carillon can ring again and the restoration has been completed, carillonneur Liesbeth Janssens played an extra concert.
City of Antwerp Alderman for Patrimony Annick De Ridder (N-VA): “‘Born in your shadow and so closely related to you’, La Esterella sang about Our Lady’s Tower. We are therefore very pleased that after all the necessary interventions on the belfry tower, the cathedral is once again revealing itself as the proud lady she was for centuries. As proud Antwerp residents, we cherish our patrimony and ensure that the city and all its inhabitants and visitors can enjoy the cathedral and its sweet-voiced carillon for a very long time to come.”
On the look of Antwerp
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | Scheldekaaien or Scheldt Quays.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | Zurenborg.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | Cogels-Osylei between Berchem and Antwerp’s Zurenborg neighbourhood.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | De Gerlachekaai at the Scheldt.
- AREAS OF ANTWERP | Sint-Andriesplein.
- ANTWERP | Instant divide over Daniel Libeskind’s transformation design for Boerentoren.
- Rainbow zebra crossing in Borgerhout.
- Rainbow zebra crossings of Antwerp.
- Rainbow zebra crossing in Berchem.
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- ANTWERP | Part of Scheldepark / Schipperspark / Zuidpark at Gedempte Zuiderdokken now open.
- ANTWERP | Major revamp of the Meirbrug – Suikerrui – Scheldt Quays axis to complete the Via Sinjoor.
- ANTWERP | Looking for Linkeroever Railway Station.
- ANTWERP | Renovation of Scheldt Quays between Sint-Andries and ‘t Zuid.
- ANTWERP | Final design revealed for Scheldt Quays at Nieuw Zuid.
- ANTWERP | 2023-2024 Park Gedempte Zuiderdokken to have grass and water.
- ANTWERP | City forest, orchard and pond for Nieuw Zuid Scheldt Quays by 2024.
- ANTWERP | Groenplaats to become green again.
- A sneak peek into Antwerp’s renovated City Hall.
- Antwerp’s Middelheim Museum rearranges sculpture park by the end of 2023.
- Redesigning Antwerp’s central Scheldt Quays between Noorderterras and Zuiderterras.
- Borsbeek to become Antwerp’s 10th district.
- Antwerp’s Droogdokkensite redeveloped into maritime experience area.
- VIDEO | The renovation of Antwerp City Hall.
- Antwerp-Central Railway Station to get new facade lights.
- Antwerp’s renewed Scheldt Quays at Loodswezen to get World War II victims memorial.
- ANTWERP | Bonapartedok to become centre for water sports and recreation.
- PHOTOS | Het Steen, Antwerp’s new Visitor Centre.
- VIDEO | Walking the future Spoorpark between Zurenborg (Antwerp) and Borgerhout.
- 5 spots in Antwerp to soak up the sun for free.
- VIDEO | Sunset over Antwerp’s Scheldt river.
- Antwerp to be car-free by 2024?.
- BOOK | ‘Antwerp. An Archaeological View on the Origin of the City’ by Tim Bellens.
- Antwerp landmark Boerentoren to become Art & Culture Tower by 2027.
- Antwerp to get a pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Scheldt.
- VIDEO | Bicycle ramp for Parkbrug at Park Spoor Noord / ‘t Eilandje in Antwerp opened.
- VIDEO | Antwerp researching old castle at Noorderterras.
- VIDEO | Pedestrian bridge in Antwerp’s Stadspark restored.
- Antwerp’s Rubens House to have new visitor centre by 2024.
- ANTWERP | Rubens House to close on 9 January 2023 and reopen in 2027.
- Noorderterras to become Kaailine, Antwerp’s New York-inspired High Line.
- Antwerp’s City Theatre Stadsschouwburg to be demolished, new playhouse elsewhere.
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- ANTWERP | Schuttershofstraat to become fully pedestrian shopping street.
- ANTWERP | Zuidpark to be completed by 2024.
- ANTWERP | Construction of Park Groot Schijn enters final phase.
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- ANTWERP | Preliminary design for Masterplan Scheldt’s Linkeroever.
- ANTWERP | Loodswezensite gets temporary green area.