Each single visitor is most welcome on this website and at the welcome desk in our churches.
To our visitors from Britain, Ireland or the United States we, the people of Antwerp, would also like to show our hospitality by offering them a ‘guest booklet’. As you will soon notice, it is a tourist booklet of welcome with a character very much of its own.
A deeper, Christian, sense of hospitality has made us consider our visitor not just an anonymous ‘tourist’, but how to approach you personally as a guest. Rather than impress the tourist by ‘our’ history, ‘our’ monuments and ‘our’ aura, we would like, as could be expected from a host, to focus attention on our ‘guest’ himself. Just as is the case when friends have not seen each other for a long time, we would like to remember our mutual experiences throughout history, and so emphasize our reciprocal bond.
In the first chapter ‘What connects us?’ we would like to show you which bonds have grown in the course of time between your country and our city. It is precisely by making this interaction known that you as a visitor and we as a host discover how related we in fact are. And you will notice that our relationship is definitely broader than you would have expected… In this way we want to reach out past the limited national borders, and focus on and strengthen the general cultural relationship between the European peoples, and in particular those between your country and our city. Our European history is the life story of a great number of peoples who have grown up together “in good days and in bad”. Here we would like to represent this common experience of history as a whole from a political, economic, religious, social and cultural point of view. Therefore, the emphasis in a chronological review of all these different dimensions of life is always a double one. What do we, citizens of Antwerp, have to thank the culture of our visitor for? And in return, what does the culture of our visitor have to thank Antwerp for?
The second chapter, ‘Our city: your city’ accompanies you on your tour of our city in order to highlight precisely those points of departure with your country. In the light of the monuments and other sights viewed, ‘la petite histoire’ between the British, Irish or Americans and the citizens of Antwerp will automatically be focused upon. By means of the broad lines of cultural history, we will try to enliven our historical diary here by painting a picture of the lively contact between individual citizens and visitors. Small details are often the best way to illustrate how ordinary people interact in daily life. Behind the dry facts of, for instance, a stay with a fellow-countryman in a particular inn, we can only presume and ponder on a deeper meeting. If only the stones (the ones which are still left) could talk…
In this way we would like to show that Antwerp is not only a little bit ‘Austrian’, ‘Danish’, ‘Dutch’, ‘French’, ‘German’, ‘Greek’, ‘Italian’, ‘Luxemburg’, ‘Norwegian’, ‘Polish’, ‘Portuguese’, ‘Russian’, ‘Spanish’ and ‘Swedish’, but also a little ‘British’, ‘Irish’ or ‘American’; and furthermore that these countries and also your own are also a little ‘Antwerpian’: indeed, a cultural Europe with no borders…
From this same inspiration we, as Christians, would like to add an extra dimension to modern tourism in an original way, namely through this form of hospitality, which focuses on the common experiences between guest and host. ‘Antwerp, Cultural Capital of Europe, 1993′ was a suitable moment for us to develop this initiative. As such we would like to stimulate the visitor (and also the people of Antwerp) to get to know our own European culture better, and to discover the underlying relationship between its peoples. We hope this will become a complete reality when you meet the people of Antwerp in the flesh and are possibly received by them at home as their guest.
In this way we hope, by means of this brochure, to reach the holy goal of hospitality, namely that you as a guest can feel at home in our own Antwerp.
Rudi Mannaerts, priest
This handy pocket-sized booklet is available to you in the Cathedral shop in Antwerp, priced 3,00€