The old town of Antwerp has several architectural gems studded along its criss-crossing lanes around Grote Market. We toured through several of them. The Carolus Borromeus Church was one of them. This was built by the Jesuits from 1615 until 1621.
To fully understand the significance and appearance of this building, one has to know the historical context of the period when it was built: the city had just been secured by the Crown within its possessions after the siege of 1589 and all the Protestants had been forced out. At the same time, the recognition of the independence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands led to the closure of the Scheldt to commerce and, with it, to the end of Antwerp’s economic prosperity. Thus, in this period of crisis and religion wars, the new eye-catching building was erected a sign of the vigor of the Catholic Church as opposed to the Calvinism. The prestigious project had just one purpose; to get people back to church.
The church had several paintings which unfortunately got destroyed in a major fire in 1718, after it was struck by lightning. The central painting that you can see above the main altar is changed from time to time. It is said the mechanism with which it is done today is the same original one and is still working well, though I could not witness the changing procedure.
The new interiors have beautiful wood carvings and sculptures. Eight confessional boxes are built in the paneling of the side walls. The confessing chairs I saw here are some of the finest ones, very unique!