Antwerp Guide, Belgium
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Antwerp - tourist guide to some of Antwerp's most interesting landmarks


The ancient port of Antwerp retains numerous reminders of its sixteenth century golden age, including medieval churches, historic buildings and market squares. Antwerp is a city with strong artistic roots. Rubens produced some of his finest works here and it should come as no surprise that Antwerp has a fine collection of museums.

Known internationally as the world's diamond centre, Antwerp is also a top destination for innovative fashion design. 'The Antwerp Six' put the city on the world fashion map, when during the eighties, Antwerp's Mode Museum produced such pioneers as Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Marina Yee and Martin Margiela.

Whatever your interests, Antwerp is a wonderful city to explore. It exudes European charm, with its beautifully preserved narrow streets, ancient buildings, atmospheric lanes and alley ways. The city has many bars and restaurants, serving excellent food, wines and Belgian beers. If you are not specifically looking to buy diamonds, Antwerp is a wonderful place to do some serious fashion shopping. In addition to established names, you will discover many exciting, up and coming young designers.

What to see in Antwerp - a brief description of Antwerp's major landmarks
 

Antwerp Guide Antwerpen Guide


Grote Markt (Big Market Square), Antwerp - City Centre
Grote Markt, Antwerp
Brabo Statue by Jef Lambeaux, Grote Markt, Antwerp
Still considered to be the centre of Antwerp, this bustling, triangular shaped market is flanked on one side by a row of 16th and 17th century Guild Houses and on the other two sides by rows of exciting shops, barsand restaurants.

The annual Christmas Market attracts thousands of visitors seeking
Yule-tide delights including foods, wines, delicacies and both traditional and innovative decorative solutions. Admission is free and includes evening music concerts.



At the centre of the Grote Markt, set in a fountain, is one of Antwerp's most well known landmarks - the Brabo Statue (created by Jef Lambeaux in 1887). Legend speaks of Antigoon, a ruthless giant who would extort money from sailors in exchange for safe passage along the River Scheldt.
It is said that one day Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, killed Antigoon - cutting off his huge hand and throwing it into the river. Brabo, a much loved character, has become a main part of Antwerp's history and tourist industry.

Guilded buildings flanking Antwerp's Grote Markt Grote Markt in Antwerp

Antwerp Cathedral (Onze Lieve Vrouwe), Antwerp - City Centre

Cathedral's  towering spire dominates Antwerp's Grote Markt

The construction of the Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwe) started in 1352 and continued for the next two centuries.
The church achieved Cathedral status in 1559 and is now considered to be one of Europe's most important cathedrals, attracting visitors who marvel at the spire (which rises to 123 metres), the three major paintings by Rubens and the breathtaking collection of 34 stained glass windows.


Click for more information from the Cathedral's official website...

Central Station, Antwerp - City Centre

Central Station, Antwerp

The main building, neo-Baroque in style, was completed in 1905 by architect Louis Delacenserie; the huge glass and metal dome was designed by architect Clement Van Bogaert.

Construction on the new extension was started in 1998 and provides a high speed rail link to the Antwerp - Dutch border.

The area around the South of the Central Station is the heart of the world famous diamond district of Antwerp.



Courts of Justice, Antwerp - Bolivarplaats

One of Antwerp's newest landmarks, this impressive building was designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership in conjunction with the Belgian architects VK Studio. The building is situated on the site of the Bolivarplaats and forms a modern gateway to the city.

More achitectural details...

The Law Courts were opened on 28 March 2006 - housing 8 separate civil and criminal courts, 36 courtrooms, a library and an impressive public hall (Salle des Pas Perdus).
New Law Courts, Antwerp Courts of Justice, Antwerp

MUHKA, Antwerp
Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen)


MUHKA Antwerp (Museum of Contemporary Art)

A prominent contemporary building in Antwerp's Zuid (South) district, MUHKA opened in 1987.

The museum - a converted warehouse - promotes Belgian and international artists, exhibiting works of art dating from 1970.
MUHKA< Museum of Contemporary Arts, Antwerp, Belgium
It is renowned for its avant-garde exhibitions.


More info at MUHKA official website...


Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerpen)


Designed and built in the late nineteenth century as a central museum for the newly developed area in the South (Zuid) of Antwerp.

The museum's vast collection of paintings dating from the 14th Century includes works by Rubens, Van Dyck, van der Weyden and Jordaens. The collection of Ruben's work is extensive. You will also find paintings by Bruegel and Rembrandt.


More info at the official website...

Momu - Mode Museum, Antwerp

Antwerp has enjoyed three decades of high interest as a world leader in progressive fashion. The MoMu Fashion Museum is housed in the impressive Mode Natie - a huge 19th century corporate building innovatively converted by architect Marie-Jose Van Hee to form a contemporary centre for Antwerp's creative fashion industry. Also housed in the Mode Natie are a restaurant, a bookshop and the Poytechnic of Antwerp's fashion department.

More info at the official website...

Brida display at Momu, Antwerp Exhibitions at Momu, Antwerp Fashion jewellery at Momu, Antwerp

Het Steen (The Stone), Antwerp


Built at the beginning of the 13th century, this castle formed the centre of medieval Antwerp. It was rebuilt by Charles V in the early part of the 16th century and came to be called 'Het Steen' (originally as a reference to 'The King's Stone').

Het Steen was the subject of an important painting by Peter Paul Rubens - A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning (oil on oak - 1636) which is held at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London.

Now a museum dedicated to Antwerp's shipping history, Het Steen is a major tourist attraction. Its distinctive architectural style symbolises the city's past as a main medieval maritime port.

Diamond District and the Provinciaal Diamantmuseum (Diamond Museum), Antwerp
 Replica of the British Crown Jewels, Provinciaal Diamantmuseum, Antwerp

Occupying about one square mile close to the Central Station, the Diamond District has, for over 500 years, been the European centre of the diamond trading world. Today, Antwerp handles more than 80 per cent of the world's trade in rough diamonds. The diamond district buys, sells, cuts, polishes, sets and markets diamonds.

The world's largest Diamond Museum providing visitors with 'image and sound' tours in various languages.
The treasure chambers display jewellery collections dating from the 16th Century. One of the main attractions is a replica of the British Crown Jewels.


Rubenshuis, Antwerp - City Centre

Rubens House, Antwerp, Belgium

This extremely popular museum was opened to the public in 1946. A contemporary glass pavilion style entrance (designed by Stephane Beel) was added in 1999.

Peter Paul Rubens acquired the Flemish-style house in 1610 and extended the building to include a grand baroque-style studio and a courtyard garden with Italianate planting and sculptures.

Rubens was born in 1577 in Siegen, Germany. As a teenager, he served as a page for a Flemish princess and studied painting under a number of influential masters, being made master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1598.

He travelled to Venice and Rome, becoming influenced by the new ideas of Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael. In 1603 he visited Spain, working as a diplomat and also as an artist.

He continued an extremely successful career, creating numerous works on religious, portrait and landscape themes. The massively grand scale of many of these works required the input of many apprentices, perhaps the most renowned being Anthony Van Dyck.

Rubens died in 1640 and is buried at Saint Jacob's Church, Antwerp.


More info at the Rubenshuis official website...

Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp - City Centre





Christoffel Plantijn moved from his native France to Antwerp in the late 1540's - opening a book binding and leather-working service. Within a few years, he had realised his ambition of running a printing works and by the late 1560's his publishing business, the 'Golden Compass' had become the most important printing press in the world.

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is situated on the Vrijdagmarkt in the centre of the city; the architectural style is patrician with stunning courtyard gardens. It now houses 25,000 volumes dating from the earliest era in printing. Exhibits include workrooms with printing presses, the type-foundry, the printing office, the proof reading room and the bookshop.

More info on Plantin Moretus...

 

 

 


  
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