Antwerp, Churches and Tourism
Tourism Pastoral, Diocese of Antwerp (TOPA vzw)

Antwerp's St Andrew's Church, a revelation.

Spatial effect

Dimensions, style, symbolism and the angle of the light all contribute to the spatial effects of a church.


Length: 77 m (253 ft.), including the length of the choir: (26.5 m) 87 ft.
Width: the central nave: (11 m) 36 ft.;
the nave and aisles: 23.5 m (77 ft.);
the transepts: 42 m (138 ft.)
Height: the nave’s vaultings: ca. 21 m (69 ft.);
the crossing’s star vaulting: ca. 23 m (75 ft.)
Tower: 58 m (190 ft.) high; square brick base with inner sides measuring 5.5 m (18 ft.) each.


St Andrew’s was built in Gothic style, more specifically the local style variant – Brabantine Gothic –which can also be found in two churches built around the same time, St James’ and St Paul’s. Brabantine Gothic style characteristics of St Andrew’s include: the sober outside architecture, the triforium (which was only executed in the 19th century) with a parapet in front of each window of the clerestory, and the cylindrical columns on eight-sided pedestals, crowned with capitals bearing a cabbage leaf motive. The aisles are below rib vaultings, the crossing is set below a star vaulting, and the high altar below a fan vaulting.


Saint Andrew’s Church: cross chaped floor plan

In reference to the cross of Jesus, the church’s floor plan is shaped like a Latin cross; and in accordance with medieval tradition, the church is ‘oriented’ toward the east, referring to the symbolism of the rising sun. Until far into the 20th century, the celebration of the Eucharist only took place during the morning – thus, the faithful oriented themselves towards Christ, ‘the Light of the world’. Situated at the place of honour, the Lady Chapel can be found on the right of the cross-shaped floor plan (at the north side, that is). In consequence, the altar at which Mary’s mother, Anna, is honoured, is against the northern crossing pillar in proximity to the Lady Chapel. Situated at the south side, the Venerable Chapel and the altar of the Holy Cross receive the full light of day, symbolizing the glorious love of Jesus. In love, Jesus was ready to sacrifice himself to the fullest (on the cross); hence, the altar of the Holy Cross is situated against the southern crossing pillar. This sacrifice of love is experienced as a living reality at the altar of the Holy Sacrament, of which the Last Supper is the theme.

Angle of the light

The light’s bright incidence is particularly aesthetic and playful, especially due to the stained glass windows. Several ‘surprise effects’ continue to keep visitors enthralled.

To become silent …