Antwerp – Diamonds and Rubens
Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen) is Belgium's primary port and the biggest city in Flanders. Antwerp is known for at least two things: for being centre for diamond processing, and as the place where Pieter Paul Rubens lived and worked. Therefore you will find here the biggest collection of his works. A paradise for museum lovers,
Antwerp is also a historical city, with a great number of beautiful historical buildings, many of them in Flemish style, but it is certainly not a sleepy place. Recently, like Prague, it has been attracting more and more Flemish and foreign artists and intellectuals, moving here to enjoy the perfect mix of history and modern life that the city offers.
As in most historic cities, just walking around the streets – or along the Scheldt river - and enjoying the views is a very gratifying way to spend time in Antwerp.
Old Market Square (Grote Markt). The square is surrounded by the typical medieval guild houses.
The City Hall (Stadhuis) in a very specific mixture of Gothic and Renaissance style.
Plantin Moretus Museum (one of the best museums dedicated to printings methods).
Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouw), a massive Gothic church hosting some of Rubens masterpieces.
Antwerp Zoo – one of the oldest in Europe.
Carolus Borromeus Church – a Baroque church.
Diamond District; the 'Jerusalem of the North'.
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten.
“The stone” (Het Steen); a reconstructed fortification.
MUHKA - museum of contemporary art.
Thing to do
Ghostwalk in the historical part of the city. A ca 2 hours long guided tour at night, through the dark history of Antwerp. Reliving ghost stories and legends, learning about some horrific events from the past.
Visiting Boerentoren (an early skyscraper with viewing platform).
Guided tour in Port of Antwerp.
Finding accommodation in Antwerp is easy. Most of the hotels – both cheap ones and those more luxurious, are situated within 15 minutes walk from 'Grote Markt'.
The main shopping area, the Meir, is one of the most well-known shopping streets in Belgium. Exclusive shops are to be found in Hopland and Schuttershofstraat; trendy boutiques - in Kammenstraat.
Antwerp airport, ANR; then a regular bus to the centre.
National Airport Zaventem in Brussels, then direct bus (goes every hour) or train to the centre of Antwerp.
By train & bus
Good connections with Brussels, France and Holland. Eurolines and Ecolines buses.
The extensive public transport system includes trams, pre-metro, and busses. Hailing a taxi on the street is not a custom here. Bicycles can be rented at several places.
Eat & Drink
The traditional Flemish cuisine is very sophisticated; it really does not consist of only Beer, Belgian Waffels, or exquisite cheese. Antwerp offers also exotic cuisines from all around the world. The city that has the most pubs per capita in the world!
Antwerp has a continental climate, typical for northern Europe. June, July and August are pleasantly warm, even hot, but often rainy. Spring and autumn are quite rainy, but mild. Winters are generally mild - the temperature rarely drops below 0° Celsius.
Time zone: UTC (GMT)+1. Daytime saving time (DST) is observed.
Currency: Euro (EUR, €).
Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman civilization, Later on, Germanic Franks settled here. In the 16th century, when foreign trade had been transferred here from Bruges, Antwerp gain the position of being one the most significant financial centres of the world. Merchants from all over Europe and Asia came here to trade. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, Antwerp lost a lot of this position to Amsterdam. However, during the 19th- 20th century, the port of Antwerp again became important; today it is Europe´s largest port.