Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium and the largest in the Flanders region. In the mid-16th century, it was considered one of the most important European towns due to its harbor, one of the largest in the world. For this reason, it was a preferential target during World War II.
It is currently known as the world center for the sale of diamonds. Antwerp was once one of the major European cities, and this is reflected in its streets and buildings. Let´s find out.
The discovery of Antwerp and its treasures begins just as leaving the train. The Central station is a great treasure to discover. Its lavish interior had grand staircases, gilded, columns, marbles, decorative flowers and different neoclassic elements. It was considered one of the five most beautiful train stations in the world by Newsweek.
2.Notre Dame Cathedral
Leaving the station we, the path leads towards the centre of Antwerp and to the Scheldt River. Its historic centre holds the Notre Dame Cathedral, a 16th-century Gothic church and the largest Belgian temple, with its arrow rising to almost 123 meters above the city. Its construction took nearly 170 years, and it is considered the most extravagant Belgian Gothic cathedral. Housed in its interior are seven side ships, a magnificent ceiling in vaulting and various Rubens paintings.
The St-Pauluskerk, housed in a historic building from the 19th century, incorporating Gothic and baroque elements. In its interior can also be found a painting of Rubens.
4. Grote Markt
The central square where the main historical buildings are located, such as the City Hall, a magnificent 16th-century building, several richly decorated 16th and 17th-century guilder houses, and the Brabo Fountain, which celebrates the legend of the soldier Silvius Brabo who killed a giant who was frightened the navigation.
One of the most impressive constructions of Antwerp, it’s walls are imposing, such as its towers and turrets of stone and brick. The Vleehuis has been occupied for centuries by the butcher’s Guild.
And even at the Riverside, leaning against the port, we find the Het Steen, the castle whose existence dates from the 10th century. The castle is a medieval fortress that has functioned as a prison over the centuries. It was built after the Viking invasions in the Middle Ages and is why the oldest building in Antwerp.
7. House of the Maidens
Known as Maagdenhuis, or the House of the Maidens is an old orphanage for girls with a tragic history. Here the babies were abandoned anonymously in a “hot wheel” placed on the wall.
8. Other places of interest
For those who are curious about the history of art, there are also three places that can not fail to visit.
>> St-Jacobskerk, known for being the place where the artist Pieter Paul Rubens was buried, whose tomb can be found in the chapel of the family behind the main altar, identified by the work Our Lady and the child Jesus surrounded by Saints.
>> The Rebunshuis, former Villa and studio of Rubens between 1611 and 1640, where it is estimated that the painter will have produced more than 2500 paintings in a room that adopted as a studio. The building was practically ruined, but was rescued by the city and recovered.
>> The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, the Art Museum which is housed in an imposing neoclassic building and claims a vast collection of works including the Flemish painters Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens.