Sint Jacobskerk (St. James' Church) in Antwerp is a 15th-century Flamboyant Gothic church with a Baroque interior. Built as a a chapel for medieval pilgrims, it was later enlarged by wealthy merchants and is now best known as the final resting place of the artist Peter Paul Rubens.
History of St. Jacobskerk
In 1431, an inn was founded on this site to provide shelter for pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. A modest chapel was added a few decades later when the community was elevated to a parish church.
In 1491, construction began on the present Church of St. James in Brabantine-Gothic style. At that time, this area was inhabited by the upper middle classes, and they planned to show off their wealth by building a tower taller than that of the city's Cathedral of Our Lady. However, due to various factors the tower only reached one-third of its intended height, at 55 meters.
The second half of the 16th century witnessed the Iconoclasm, followed by a short-lived cohabitation between Catholics and Protestants, then Calvinist dominance, and finally, after 1585, a return to Catholic worship.
In the first half of the 17th century, the eastern extension was further developed in Gothic style. Many tradesmen and wealthy nobles donated particular pieces of furniture, ornaments, and building materials.
What to See
St. James' Church features 23 altars, opulent decorations throughout, religious art treasures in gold and silver, and more than 100 types of marble. Seven chapels radiate from the ambulatory around the high altar, including the Chapel of Our Lady, which is better known as the Rubens Chapel.
The Rubens Chapel contains the tomb of Peter Paul Rubens, the celebrated painter. The painting of Our Lady with Saints was done by the artist himself for his memorial; St. George is believed to be a portrait of Rubens himself. The church contains several other pieces by Rubens, as well as some by van Dyck and other prominent artists.
Quick Facts on St. Jacobskerk
|Church of St. James · St. Jacobskerk
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|51.220184° N, 4.410743° E
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- Antwerp: St. James' Church - Trabel.com
- St Jacobskerk (St. James's Church) - Frommer's
- Description St. James Church - Diocese of Antwerp
Map of St. Jacobskerk, Antwerp
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