Brabo Fountain

Brabo Fountain, Jef Lambeaux, public art, Antwerp

Public Art : Brabo Fountain Also known as Brabo statue

Sculptor : © Jef Lambeaux

Description: The bronze fountain known as the Brabo statue, features the Roman soldier Silvius Brabo in the act of throwing the severed hand of the giant Druoon Antigoon into the river. Brabo stands on a castle pedestal supported by mermaids. The castle symbolizes the giant's home, the location of where he had wreaked such havoc. The fountain is also decorated with water spouting sea animals. If you look down at Brabo's feet there dangles Antigoon's head.There is no basin to this fountain, the water simply disappears under the stones of the monument.

Date Unveiled: 1887

Location: In the middle of Grote Market stands Brabo Fountain, Antwerp, Belgium.

So who was Brabo? The fountain was inspired by a famous legend about a nasty mythical giant named Druon Antigoon (of Russian descent) who lived in Antwerp and spent his days guarding a bridge next to his castle on the river Scheldt. When people attempted to cross the bridge or a captain of a sailing vessel tried to enter the river without paying the toll, the giant would chop off their hands and throw them in the river.

Unfortunately for Druon Antigoon, a Roman soldier by the name of Silvio brabo was not going to take any of the giant's nonsense and refused to pay the toll but instead challenged him to a duel. With one swift blow from his sword, he cut off the giant's hand and head and threw them into the river.

It was from this story that the city got its unusual name Antwerp, which is a combination of the Flemish words for “hand” (ant) and “to throw” (werpen).

The hand soon became the symbol of the city, appearing on Antwerp's coat of arms and City Seals. In latter years it took on an even more symbolic significance to the city when, in 1585, the Dutch following in the giant's footsteps, closed the Scheldt for shipping and began charging a toll for all other water vessels. This had a devastating affect on the city, with shipping shifted to the Dutch ports of Amsterdam and Middleburg, it left one of the world's most powerful trading cities economically crippled. In 1830 the treaty of the Scheldt finally allowed the waterway to be reopened to ships headed for Belgian ports.

The reopening of the river inspired local sculptor Jef Lambaux to design a new fountain to celebrate the liberation of the river. In 1883 he presented his design to the city council, who were suitably impressed. Four years later the fountain was unveiled.

Brobal statue, Antwerp, Belgium, public art

Brabo fountain, Belgium, public art

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