HOW IT ALL started...
Ten years ago I graduated as a Master in art history and during my studies I specialised in Baroque art and the representations of the Virgin Mary. By day I am a teacher of social studies in Antwerp. In my spare time I am a city guide with a fascination for the art and history of this beautiful city. After years researching the topic, I developed the Mary Tour to share my obsession with this surprising subject.
It seems like every street corner in Antwerp has a Virgin Mary statue standing on a facade somewhere. Worldwide, she is still the most frequently represented and most popular saint. Processions and sanctuaries in her name continue to see visitors flocking towards them to catch a glimpse. Traditional institutionalised religion may be on the decline, the adoration of the Madonna is alive and kicking among a diverse group of people who find comfort in their love for Mary. For religious people, she represents an approachable human saint, a mother figure always open for their prayers. For the art historians she is an inescapable iconography that pervades Western culture. In Antwerp she is affectionately called Mayken, patron and protectress of the city. To the feminist she traces back to pagan culture and its female goddesses, thriving in a patriarchal society. For the fans of kitsch, she is a diva and a never ending source for collectables that are as much art as they are camp.
THE MARY TOUR
We’ll be visiting the prominent Mary churches of Antwerp, namely the Cathedral, the St. Charles Borromeo Church and Saint Paul’s Church. We will be walking through the streets of the historical city centre, hopping from one Mary statue to the next. In all her representations, Mary mediates between us and the past of the city. You’ll see familiar places from a whole new perspective and discover hidden nooks and crannies of Antwerp. Even locals will not look at the city the same way after this tour!
Looking for something else?
As a teacher, art historian and city guide, I would love to accompany you on a tour through Antwerp and help you discover one of the many interesting neighbourhoods, churches and museums the city has to offer. For your visit we create a personalised tour that is in tune with your interests and the characteristics of your group.
Fill in the form to book a Mary tour or to discuss a personalised guided tour of Antwerp.