Antwerp – commercial centre and cultural metropolis16.02.2015
City of Rubens, diamond capital and seaport – the North Belgian city of Antwerp is multifaceted. Offering visitors variety and relaxation, Antwerp is the perfect destination for city breaks and family holidays alike. With a population of around a half a million, Antwerp is the biggest urban municipality in the country, yet small enough so you can visit most of the attractions on foot. The city features impressive architecture, from Gothic to modern, and a creative fashion scene.
Despite the severe destruction of the Second World War, Antwerp’s historic townscape has been largely preserved and can be explored alone (on foot or on the Touristram), on a guided tour, by land or even on the water. Among the city’s major sights are the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, Grote Markt market square, Antwerp Town Hall, Boerentoren (the first American-style skyscraper in Europe), Het Steen fortress (Antwerp’s oldest surviving building), and numerous museums. Recommended destinations for family excursions with children are Antwerp Zoo, Aquatopia, the ruien (a cleverly devised network of waterways beneath the city), Pirateneiland (Pirate Island – a large indoor playground), and the children’s farms directly on the city outskirts.
Antwerp owes its economic rise particularly to its strategically favourable location on the River Scheldt as well as its seaport – one of the biggest in the world – leading to the North Sea and the related extensive trade and commerce. A tour of the port area should definitely be on your Antwerp itinerary. Vast docks, the largest lock complex in the world, old harbour cranes, and containers as far as the eye can see are just waiting to be explored. Visitors should not miss the Museum aan de Stroom. The shipping museum, designed to look like a stack of containers, is considered one of the city’s distinctive landmarks.
City of Rubens
The names of many artists are associated with the city of Antwerp. Among them are the Flemish painters Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and Jan Brueghel the Younger. The most famous of them, though, is Peter Paul Rubens. You can discover traces of Rubens throughout the city, be it his house (which you can visit), his statue on Groenplaats, or more than 50 paintings of his in various churches and museums. Art lovers should plan a visit to Antwerp Cathedral as well as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Antwerp is one of the most important diamond trading centres in the world. Around 27,000 people in the city make their living from the trade in the precious stones. Four diamond exchanges and around 1,600 diamond companies are located in Antwerp. Visitors who want to find out more about the history and economic significance of the diamond trade for the city or who simply wish to admire the sparkling exhibits will find exactly what they are looking for at the Diamond Pavilion.
Antwerp Airport (ANR) is around three kilometres from the city centre. Travellers can take the bus directly from the airport to the centre of town. The Belgian airline Jetairfly will be connecting Berlin Tegel Airport to Antwerp three times a week, starting on 18 April 2015. Flights will depart for the Belgian trade and commerce metropolis on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.