Antwerp in 20 Photos

I grew up in the Belgian province of Antwerp and the city of Antwerp—the province’s namesake capital—was always the place we went to on day trips with the family, whether it was for shopping or going to a show or visiting the zoo. This is why Antwerp holds a special place in my heart and always will. I love the city.

Belgium’s second-largest city, after Brussels, this city of more than 500,000 people is the heart of fashion, art and shopping in the country. The home base of the so-called Antwerp Six and the legendary Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp has firmly established itself as one of the world’s top fashion capitals.

Because of this status, Antwerp has become one of the most expensive places to live and to do business in Belgium, the huge shopping street Meir actually being the most expensive street in the entire country (according to Monopoly).

Additionally, Antwerp also happens to be the world’s diamond capital. You can take that very literally, for no less than 85% of all the world’s rough diamonds pass through the city each year. The Diamond Quarter is a neighborhood next to the totally impressive train station that’s home to dozens upon dozens of diamond cutters, traders and sellers.

It doesn’t stop there, though. There’s much more to Antwerp than just fashion, shopping and diamonds, even though that’s a big part of its attractiveness for many people.

Antwerp also has an immensely rich history. In the 16th century, it was one of the world’s most important cities, a powerful nearly independent city where people from all over Europe came to sell, trade and buy goods and services. In the same period, Antwerp was also the home of Pieter Paul Rubens, the world-renowned and incredibly wealthy Baroque artist. Antwerp is quite proud of this, as it should be, and reminders of the fact this gifted painter was an Antwerp resident can be seen all over the city.

Although it isn’t as well-preserved as Bruges or Ghent for example, it does have a charming medieval core—an area with cobbled streets, spectacular guild houses, squares, restaurants and “brown cafés.” This is where you will want to spend most of your time when visiting Antwerp for the first time.

Throw some historic landmarks—Het Steen (a riverside castle) and the striking Cathedral of Our Lady (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)—into that mix of fashion, art and history and you have a great city with everything you could possibly wish for.

I would like to refer to the Antwerp Tourist Board website for a plethora of information on the city’s attractions, museums, events, dining venues and watering holes.

This post is meant to showcase several of Antwerp’s highlights in photographic form—photos that, as you will see below, where taken on a rather cloudy day. Didn’t make the city less impressive, though!

20 Photos of Antwerp

City Hall and guild houses, Antwerp photos
City Hall and guild houses at the Market Square
Central Station, Antwerp photos
The impressively ornate Central Station
Diamond store in Antwerp
One of many diamond shops in the city
Café in Antwerp, Belgium
Typical tavern in the old city center
Antwerp photo: Antwerp Central Station
The majestic Central Station is nicknamed “the railway cathedral”
Castle Het Steen in Antwerp, Belgium
The medieval fortress Het Steen lies on the right bank of the Scheldt River
View of Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp
View of the Cathedral of Our Lady from near Het Steen
Shops in Antwerp, Belgium
Lace, chocolate and beer stores… Could it be more Belgian?
Antwerp City Hall
The magnificent City Hall is a major highlight at the Market Square
Door to Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp
Door of the Cathedral of Our Lady, the tower of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Restaurants at Handschoenmarkt, Antwerp photos
Restaurants at Handschoenmarkt
Belgian chocolates
Belgian chocolates
People of Antwerp, Belgium
One of many streets that end at the Market Square
Brown café in Antwerp, Belgium
A typical brown café
Carolus Borromeus Church, Antwerp photos
The massive façade of the Carolus Borromeus Church
Diamonds in Antwerp
Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds…
Antwerp Central Train Station
Imposing entry hall in the Antwerp Central Station
Old Market Square of Antwerp, Belgium
The Cathedral of Our Lady dominates the Market Square
Het Steen, Antwerp
Lange Wapper statue in front of Het Steen, near the Scheldt River
Statue of Brabo, Antwerp
Statue of Brabo at the Market Square in the historic city center

This post is part of the “city series“, a series of photo essays that feature twenty photos of the world’s greatest cities.

Have you ever been to Antwerp? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Belgium Travel Guides

Rick Steves Belgium Travel Guide
Lonely Planet - Belgium & Luxembourg
Eyewitness Travel - Belgium & Luxembourg

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