Belgium’s second city is a wonderful blend of old and new. Take Antwerp Port,one of the largest docks in Europe,as an example. It has a history as a grungy old dockland, but is now being transformed into a nightlife hot spot. From the old gothic Cathedral of Our Lady to the hyper-modern Law Courts, Antwerp really is a place where past, present and future comes together.
The city also offers you the medieval beauty of Old Town, and the modern beauties strutting their stuff at the high fashion stores. And speaking of spending lots of money… Antwerp is also home to a girl’s best friend – diamonds. If you think your credit card can handle it, pay a visit to Diamondland, the city’s biggest diamond store. Throw postcard settings into the mix and you’ve got a city that’s beautiful both outside and in.
Antwerp’s Top 10
10. Pirate Island Take the kids through this huge converted warehouse (secretly channelling Cap’n Jack Sparrow en route).
5. Antwerp Zoo One of the world’s oldest and biggest. It contains animals. Lots of animals.
9. MoMu Fashion Museum In a city filled with fashion, this is the place to see truly cutting-edge design.
4. Antwerpen Central Station With all the marble, glass and stone, it’s more like a palace.
8. Brouwerij de Koninck Take a tour of this historic local brewery and don’t forget to taste their renowned brown ale.
3. Grote Markt This market is the soul of the old city centre – a beautiful area that has remained largely unchanged.
7. Middelheim Open Air Museum You don’t even have to go inside to enjoy the contemporary art.
2. Steen Castle Looks like it has been ripped from the pages of a fairy tale.
6. Saint Carolus Borromeus Church Decorated by Ruben (a cash-in-hand specialist, they say…)
1. Diamond District See how rough diamonds are transformed.
- Palace of Justice - A beautiful 19th-century red brick building on the Britselei.
- Carolus Borromeus Church – A baroque church with a minimal exterior yet beautiful interior.
- Bourla Theatre – A 19th-century neoclassicist theatre building, which is charming inside and out.
- Old Market Square – Antwerp's old market square surrounded by medieval guild houses.
- Cathedral of Our Lady – Built in 1351, one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in Europe.
Antwerp Art & Culture
- Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten – Paintings from the 15th to 20th centuries.
- Rubenshuis – The former residence of painter Peter Paul Rubens, featuring many works of art.
- Het Muntplein – Where graffiti artists can freely create artwork, with regular graffiti contests.
- MUHKA – Antwerp’s enticing museum of contemporary art.
- Plantin Moretus Museum – Home of 16th-century bookbinder and printer, Christoffel Plantin.
- Kloosterstraat – Home to many antique shops, often selling bizarre items.
- Chinatown – Countless Japanese, Korean and Chinese goods can be found here.
- Ploegstraat 25 – Featuring a "giveaway shop" in which visitors can bring and take items.
- Kammenstraat – Famous Antwerp fashion designers sell goods here.
- Theaterplein Square – In front of the Stadsschouwburg Theatre with food, antiques and clothes.
Gay & Lesbian Antwerp
- Antwerp Gay Pride – A major June event to showcase the city's diversity and tolerance..
- Body Boys – A popular bar attracting the young and old.
- Hessenhuis – A gay and lesbian community bar featuring live DJs.
- Pannekoek @ Bonaparte – Ideal for those who love the music of ABBA, Lady Gaga and Kylie.
- Café den Draak @ Het Roze Huis – In Antwerp’s gay and lesbian community house.
- Antwerp Zoo – Featuring more than 4,000 animals and one of the world’s largest zoos.
- Het Steen – A small, medieval castle located on the banks of the river Schelde.
- Middelheim Park – Houses a permanent, open-air exhibition of contemporary sculpture.
- Zurenborg – A neighbourhood in southeast Antwerp known for its bizarre 19th-century architecture.
- Zomer van Antwerpen – A great summer festival that features inexpensive or free activities.
- See the Royal Antwerp Football Club play at the Bosuilstadion.
- Watch the Antwerp Iron Man Half Triathlon in July.
- Catch the Koninklijke Beerschot Antwerpen Club kick off at the Olympisch Stadion.
- Check out Antwerp’s professional basketball team, the Antwerp Giants in the Lotto Arena.
- Plan to watch the Antwerp Open BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) tournament held every June.
Every June, the famous Antwerp Fashion Academy holds a glamorous graduate show. Come and spot the next big thing in fashion.
The annual Openluchttheater Rivierenhof Festival takes place from June to September and includes a varied mix of music and comedy. With free Friday night shows, there is no excuse not to go.
Just try not to overindulge at the annual Taste Antwerp Culinary Festival. Celebrated chefs cook up all manner of culinary delights. Yum and yum!
September’s Laundry Festival pays tribute to the days when people came together and laundry was hung in the streets. Now a huge outdoor music festival, there are still colourful laundry lines hanging overhead.
The Antwerp Christmas Market takes place in December – enjoy the carols while sipping on mulled wine.
When To Go
- Antwerp is at its best in spring – not too hot, not too cold and not too crowded.
- Summer (June to August) is popular due to the warmer weather, with temperatures averaging 18°C (64°F).
- Summer is also the wettest time of the year, but as it rains all year round, it’s unavoidable in Antwerp!
The tram network is extensive and a good way to get around. It even goes under a river at one point!
There is also an extensive, reliable bus network.
Walk through the old city centre and enjoy the medieval architecture and al fresco dining.
Historical Antwerp, the paramount diamond deposit, guild and university city is one of the most attractive towns in Europe, let alone Belgium. As the former nexus of the international economy and foremost capital of the Age of Exploration, Antwerp is a paradise for tourism.
While the city may not be the hub of commerce and trade it was half a millennium ago, fabulous relics of Antwerp's exceptional “Golden Age” endure for modern explorers to enjoy. Despite the damage of fire and war over the years, the city is awash with key monuments and remains one of the most important seaports in the world.
Attractions & Events
The Zuid is a cosmopolitan, commercial art gallery area of Antwerp, replete with cafés, restaurants, posh retail shops and museums. With superb Art Nouveau architecture, the Zuid also features the Museum of Modern Art and Fotomuseum.
The dramatic Royal Museum of Fine Arts may be the best attraction in the Zuid however. The Neoclassical museum has a Hall of Fame permanent collection, with works by van Eyck, Brueghel, Rubens and more.
A pioneer in research and conservation, Antwerp Zoo dates back to 1843 and is one of the best wildlife preserves in the world.
Construction on the incomplete Cathedral of Our Lady began in 1351. The World Heritage Gothic church is a vital landmark in Antwerp, with interior works by Rubens, Otto van Veen and Marten de Vos.
The old Antwerp stock exchange, or Bourse, was the first in the world. A tour of the historic mercantile facility is well worth it.
In a similar vein, a tour of the famous diamond district provides a special look into one of the main engines of the Antwerp economy.
With heavy participation in the diamond industry, the city's Hasidic community plays a vital role. Specific tours of Antwerp's Jewish quarter offer visitors a momentary peek into the insular community of 20,000 strong.
Antwerp has always been a literary city and a hub for the dissemination of knowledge. That tradition endures every November with the Antwerp Book Fair.
The Grote Markt hosts the Rubens Market in August, the foremost city tribute to the illustrious painter.
Also held in August, Laus Polyphoniae is a celebration of baroque and polyphonic music. The festival takes place in various concert halls around Antwerp.
The International Antiques Fair in May features pre-eminent objets d'art from around the world and draws over 20,000 collectors and curious onlookers to the Bouwcentrum.
The outdoor Laundry Day music festival, held every September, draws DJs from around Belgium and Europe before capacity crowds that number up to 50,000 people.
The climate of Antwerp is moderate maritime, with four seasons. Rainfall remains steady at about 5 cm on average per month.
- Winter (November to February) 2-10°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-18°C
- Summer (June to August) 12-23°C
- Fall (September to October) 8-19°C
Antwerp On Wikipedia
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