A detailed town plan of Antwerp, showing fortified walls, city gates, the inner ring of the city, important public buildings, squares, and more. A key names thirty-two important places in the city. The coat of arms in the upper left shows the symbol of the city, overlain by the Hapsburg imperial eagle.
The city is here pictured from the east. Our Lady of Antwerp is seen in the center of the image, with its spires rising high above the city. Other landmarks still visible include St. James's Church (Sint-Jacobskerk) and the port of Antwerp. Interestingly, Antwerp Castle and extensive fortifications are pictured upriver from the city. Evidence for this castle is strongly lacking, and Het Steen, the famous 16th-century fortress on the Scheldt should be almost directly in front of Our Lady of Antwerp. This latter does not appear to be shown.
Antwerp was historically one of the most important cities in Belgium, partly due to its convenient location on the lower Schedlt. The city was in a decline at the time this map was made, following the Spanish Fury and wars in the region. The city was then almost dealt a death blow in 1648, ten years after this map was made when the Scheldt was closed to navigation by the Treaty of Munster. For nearly two hundred years, the ships shown in this map would not have been able to sail to Antwerp. The city was able to regain status during the 19th century, and despite being extensively bombed during World War II (more V-2 rockets were fired on Antwerp than on any other target), many of its landmarks survived.
Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century