De Groote Robijn with the Van Straelentower
Groote Robijn en Van Straelentoren Antwerpen - titel

De Groote Robijn

architect unknown / Louis De Vooght / Vanhecke & Suls

Antwerp, Korte Sint-Annastraat 4

before 1550 / 1903 – 1907 / 2014 – 2017

Groote Robijn

During one of the last Heritage Days, we visited the large complex between Sint-Jacobsmarkt, Frans Halsplein and Korte Sint-Anna Street. It is a neighborhood where I never actually come, while it is very close to the center. It is best known for the Renaissance tower: the Van Straelentower.

Van Straelentower

The tower is located in the northern part of the complex that dates from the first half of the sixteenth century. Antoon van Stralen bought it in 1565. He was the mayor and alderman of Antwerp. Although he himself was a Catholic, he was tolerant of other religions. He worked closely with Willem van Oranje to bring about a rapprochement between the Catholics and Lutherans. The Duke of Alva had him brought before the ‘Raad van beroerten’ for this. The verdict was as follows: confiscation of his possessions and the death penalty. On September 24, 1568, he was beheaded with the sword.

Tower history

On the spire is a weather vane in the shape of a dragon, a reference to the mother of Van Stralen, who descended from the Draeck family (draeck = dragon). The tower had a gothic exterior, this was  adapted to the new Renaissance style by Van Stralen. In 1654 the Jesuits acquired the building. After the abolition of the order in 1777, it came back into private hands. In 1902 it was purchased by the apostolic sisters. This monastic order was originally from Antwerp, active in education and has been established at the Paardenmarkt since 1804. The sisters turned to architect Louis De Vooght for the redesign and expansion.

Neogotic chapel

In 1907 the neo-gothic chapel was built on the south side of the courtyard. The complex was given in leasehold in 1998 to Jeugdzorg Emmaus, an institution for special youth assistance. From 2014 to 2017, it was restored by them under the supervision of the Vanhecke & Suls architectural firm. The former chapel was thereby converted into living space for the young people staying in the Groote Robijn.

De Groote Robijn

architect unknown / Louis De Vooght / Vanhecke & Suls

Antwerp, Korte Sint-Annastraat 4

before 1550 / 1903 – 1907 / 2014 – 2017

This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.

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