Belgium’s second city and biggest port, Antwerp is a vibrant destination with a flourishing cultural scene and a sea of great restaurants.
The city fans out from the east bank of the River Scheldt and its pretty medieval centre is easily navigated along the cobbled streets. At the heart of the city is Grot Markt home to the town hall, its facades decorated by the flags of the 28 countries of the European Union, and an impressive statue of Brabo throwing the severed hand of Antigoon.
Antwerp boasts one of Belgium’s finest Gothic cathedrals, the Cathedral of Our Lady. Its 123m spire seems to follow you round the city, popping its head up between the myriad of art nouveau buildings and narrow town houses with stepped gables. Its huge seven-aisle nave dwarfs all who visit and four Rubens canvases hand proudly within its walls.
The city’s proud association to this iconic artist is not lost on its residents and you will hear his name uttered many times while visiting Antwerp. The house where Rubens and his family lived for 25 years has been turned into a museum where you can see some of his masterpieces and explore the house and gardens.
The riverside fortress, Het Steen, is the city’s oldest building. Its name translates as ‘the stone’ as it was constructed at a time when most building were made from wood. Antwerp also has the largest diamond district in the world with grinding rooms, showrooms and exhibitions dedicated to this sparkling rock.
A huge selection of cafes, bars and restaurants and plenty of green space make Antwerp the perfect city for strolling and enjoying some fine Belgian beer.