Antwerp…everyone’s best friend
Just 30 minutes from Brussels lies the vibrant city of Antwerp, home to the second largest port in Europe and some spectacular architecture and shopping not to be missed. Perfectly blending the old with the new, Antwerp gives visitors a unique experience.
A plethora of museums and galleries add to Antwerp’s riches. The influence of Rubens on this city equals that of Warhol’s on New York. The Rubenshuis Museum (Rubens House) contains ten masterpieces including his self-portrait.
Culture vultures will also appreciate the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA). The museum exhibits an extensive collection from the 14th Century to present day, celebrating the masterpieces of over 35 artists. An unrivalled opportunity to appreciate some of Belgium’s finest.
That said, one of Antwerp’s most popular tourist attractions is the Antwerp Diamond Museum. Did you know that 7 out of the 10 diamonds traded around the world come from Antwerp? Since the 15th Century, Antwerp has been a major player in the diamond trade.
The Diamond Museum has a breathtaking collection on display and also offers the chance to see a real diamond tailor at work. Watch and be amazed as the small sparkling stones turn into stunning works of art. You might want to get your credit card at the ready, as you know…diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
Antwerp’s other main influence is on the fashion world. Its Antwerp Fashion Academy has become the driving force behind Europe’s trendsetting. Every year the Antwerp Fashion show attracts over 6,000 visitors from all over the world, all eager to find out what’s hot.
No surprise then that Antwerp’s shopping scene is thriving. Concentrated on a few streets you’ll be sure to find what ever it is that you’re after. Meir is the busiest shopping street and excellent for men, women and children’s clothes and accessories. For the fashionistas, Kammenstraat and Lombardenvest, Hopland and Schuttershofstraat have the latest trendy boutiques.
For an alternative shopping experience, the Wilde Zee and South District are the places to be if you love antiques or just want something different.
As the second largest port in Europe, Antwerp enjoys many benefits. With regular access to exotic herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables, the wide range of restaurants and café’s serve up an assortment of foods from all over the world. Your visit to Antwerp would be incomplete without tasting the traditional Flemish dish of eel in chervil sauce.
Antwerp’s food quarters can be navigated according to what kind of food you’re after. For Thai and Chinese head to the Station district and enjoy a taste of the East. Or visit the Zurenborg district with its fine restaurants housed in magnificent Art Nouveau houses or the city center with an array of cosy restaurants in every nook and cranny. For a more laid back lunch or dinner, head to the bistros of Quartier Latin, perfect for a lazy late lunch on a sunny afternoon.
If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the Antwerps Handjes, which are butter cookies or chocolates shaped like hands, or try Antwerps Gebak, a cross between a biscuit and a cake covered in almonds, apricot jam and icing sugar…decadent and delicious!
Antwerp really is a beautiful city with so much on offer. There is something to cater for everyone’s tastes and you decide how much or little you want to do. With fine art, fine food, outstanding architecture and shopping, Antwerp is a must on any itinerary.
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Courtesy of Tourism Flanders
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