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Looking Up In Antwerp

If you’re looking to visit a modern, medieval, walkable and friendly city, Antwerp would be a good bet.

Last week I spent two days in Antwerp, Belgium’s second city. I’ve been there countless times before; my parents used to take me to the Zoo a couple of times a year, it’s also an awesome city for shopping (if you like that) and there are a few world-class museums. I definitely recommend visiting the Rubens House, the former home and workshop of Peter Paul Rubens.

The train station – dubbed the ‘Railway Cathedral’ – is a monument on its own, the town square is gorgeous and there are several churches and a cathedral. Even though the Cathedral of Our Lady has one unfinished tower, it’s a magnificent building on the outside and on the inside, where you can see lots of paintings by the old Flemish Masters.

There’s an abundance of bars, brown cafés and restaurants, the medieval fortress Het Steen and the river Scheldt which is the reason Antwerp has one of the largest ports in Europe.

Oh, and the diamonds! When you exit the train station, there are dozens of diamonds shops. Millions of diamonds. Antwerp is known as the diamond capital of the world, as 80% of rough diamonds in the world pass through Antwerp. It’s impressive.

Did I mention the Zoo? The Antwerp Zoo is conveniently located next to the train station. It’s big and established in 1843, it’s also one of the oldest animal parks in the world.

What I love most about the city are the buildings. I just love the architectural style. Even though my two days there didn’t have the best weather (think clouds and rain), I didn’t prevent me from taking a bunch of photos. Normally I don’t take that many vertical pictures, but this was a good time and place to make an exception.

Let’s start with the monumentally grand Central Station, which must be one of the greatest railway stations in the world.

Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp Central railway station, Belgium.
Welcome to Antwerpen!
Antwerp Central Station, Belgium.
The entrance hall of the train station
Entrance hall of Antwerp Central Station.
Awesome entrance hall of Antwerp Central Station
Diamonds in Antwerp, Belgium.
Diamonds, diamonds everywhere!
Chocolate shop in Antwerp, Belgium.
Chocolate and beer are readily available as well
Town Hall of Antwerp, Belgium.
The Town Hall
Antwerp Town Square.
View of the cathedral from the Town Square
The cathedral and the lovely houses of historic Antwerp.
Cathedral of Our Lady and the lovely houses of historic Antwerp
Statue of Brabo at the Town Square, Antwerp.
Statue of Brabo at the Town Square
Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium.
Here you can clearly see the unfinished tower of the cathedral
Doors of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp.
Doors to the cathedral
Lange Wapper statue in front of Het Steen, Antwerp, Belgium.
Lange Wapper statue in front of Het Steen
View of historic Antwerp from the river Scheldt, Belgium.
View of historic Antwerp from the river Scheldt
Het Steen fortress in Antwerp.
Het Steen, a medieval fortress located right next to the Scheldt river
Het Steen and the Antwerp shipyards.
Behind Het Steen lie the old shipyards of the city
The impressive facade of the Carolus Borromeus church in Antwerp, Belgium.
The impressive facade of the Carolus Borromeus church
Streets of Antwerp.
Great streets to get lost in
A few nice places to go for a strong Belgian beer or a waffle!
A few nice places to go for a strong Belgian beer or a waffle!

I just realized that this post turned out to be one big advertisement for Antwerp, but I just truly love this city. There’s so much to see and do, and the atmosphere is brilliant. Just wander around those cobblestone alleyways at dusk, with their high narrow houses and the lights of the cafés and shops and you’ll fall in love with it as well.

Promise!

Here are a bunch of links to the attractions mentioned in this post, as well as some fascinating local legends:

Attractions and landmarks

The Rubens House
Cathedral of Our Lady
Carolus Borromeus Church
Het Steen
World Diamond Center
Port of Antwerp
Antwerp Central Station

Legends and folklore

Brabo and Antigone
Lange Wapper

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