Antwerp, Belgium



The Vleeshuis (Butcher's Hall, or literally Meat House) in Antwerp, Belgium is a former guildhall. It is now a museum located between the Drie Hespenstraat, the Repenstraat and the Vleeshouwersstraat. The slope where the Drie Hespenstraat meets the Burchtgracht used to be known as the Bloedberg or Blood Mountain.

In the Middle Ages, Antwerp was one of the economic centers of Flanders, next to Bruges and Ghent. Because of that, indoor trade markets were founded, one of which was the Vleeshuis. It is not known when the first one was built. The second Vleeshuis was built in 1250 near the castle of Antwerp. It was commissioned by the Duke of Brabant and paid for by the city of Antwerp. A central meat market enabled the city to regulate the meat industry, limiting the number of butchers permitted to sell to 52. The building may have also functioned as a slaughterhouse. In 1290, John I, Duke of Brabant recognized the guild of Antwerp butchers, resulting in butchers' guild being the oldest trade guild in Antwerp. In time, many of the butcher families became wealthy. The Vleeshuis functioned as a commercial center for selling slaughtered animals.

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