Today I'm showing you a few places in my adopted city Antwerp and giving you a short history lesson (you love those, don't you!). The monument above is called Schelde Vrij (Free Scheldt) and is located on Marnixplaats square in the Zuid district (close to Volkstraat which I've already told you about: part 1, part 2). It was installed in 1873, ten years after the Belgians and Dutch had reached a settlement over the control of the Scheldt River. Antwerp had been occupied by Spain in 1585, so the Dutch blocked the river and cut off access to the city. Smart people the Dutch! After the Peace Treaty of Münster in 1648, which ended the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands, the Dutch didn't quite let go of their control of the river. They imposed a levy on all ships sailing to Antwerp, which limited its growth. But in 1863 a settlement was reached and everyone lived happily ever after.
When Antwerp fell in 1585 its mayor was Marnix van St. Aldegonde, hence the location on Marnixplaats. The monument itself is 20 meters high (66 ft). The guy at the top with the trident in his right hand is Neptune himself, god of the sea, and by his sides are Mercury, god of trade, and a kneeling woman that represents the city of Antwerp. Behind them is a small boy. In the last photo of that section you can see one of the water gods spouting Scheldt River water. The architect was Jan Jacob Winders (1849-1936), who also designed the exterior of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Now let's get some coffee, shall we.
The above photos were taken this summer during one of our many visits to Café Wattman in another part of the city (I've told you about it before). We like to go there for a burger and/or latte. It's wonderful to sit outside in good weather but it can be rather noisy because of the railway tracks and traffic – industrially cosy.
Let's jump on a tram and head to Groenplaats square, shall we.
I've often mentioned Groenplaats in my posts, for the simple reason that I like to stay in that area of the city. By the square you'll find many cafés and restaurants, for example PAUL. Some of you may be familiar with that patisserie, which seems to be everywhere in the world. Behind it is the Cathedral of Our Lady, which I'll show you more of very soon.
I'm off to the Park. Have a wonderful day!
photo credit: Lisa Hjalt