I stepped into the nave of Antwerp’s magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady, drawn to the light and to the peaceful beauty of this World Heritage site, the largest Gothic church in the Low Countries.
During the Iconoclasm of August 20, 1566 (part of the Beeldenstorm at the start of the Eighty Years' War), a large part of the interior was destroyed by Protestants. A number of artistic treasurers were destroyed, removed or sold when Antwerp came under Protestant administration in 1581.
With the fall of Antwerp four years later, Roman Catholic authority was restored. Two hundred years later, in 1794, French revolutionaries who conquered the region plundered Our Lady’s Cathedral with the intention of demolishing the icon. The cathedral survived the turbulence and saw the return of various important works of art from the French in 1816, including three Rubens masterpieces. The cathedral was completely restored and refurnished during the nineteenth century.