North of Belgium, in the Flemish region, there is a historic city, called Antwerp. Antwerp was the central Belgium seaport after World War II and today is one of the most important ports worldwide. She is best known not only for her diamonds, but also for her culture and history. Antwerp combines modern architecture with the classic Renaissance one. I have been in the paved alleys to discover them.
If you choose the Charleroi airport, outside Brussels, then you can take A1 bus line to reach at the Charleroi Sud train station. It takes 2 hours to get in Antwerp. (Cost 20euros).
Is located at the center of Antwerp and it amazes you with its prestige and size. It is a 19th century architectural creation and one of the six award winners of 2011, “Cultural Heritage” by the European Union. You can take the train from the station to reach other Belgian cities.
Koningin Astridplein 27, 2018 Antwerp
Before you start your tour, you can buy the City Card of Antwerp. I bought the 48 hours card and it costed only 38 euros. It includes free entry to 15 museums and it provides the using of the public transport. You have to know that cultural sites are closed on Mondays.
Grote Markt 13, 2000 Antwerp
The city characteristic is the central square with the Brabo’s statue. Flemish tradition says that Silvio Brabo cut a giant’s hand, who was the city’s terror. The giant stood on the bridge over the river Scheldt and cut people hands when they deny to pay him to cross the bridge. So, Antwerp took her name from the word Handwerpen which means “hand- throwing”.
Grote Markt, 2000 Antwerp
Nello & Patrasche
One road and 2 minutes away in Handschoenmarkt square, Nello’s and Patrasche’s statues from the famous tale sleep there. Symbols of friendship, partnership, courage and hope for dealing life with moral, kindness and nobility in spite of the ugly things that may occur. Nello, a small orphan child that loved to draw and admire Ruben’s paintings of the Cathedral of Our Lady, will have an excellent place at Antwerpians’ hearts.
Handschoenmarkt 3/21, 2000 Antwerp
Cathedral of Our lady Virgin Mary
At the same square, Cathedral of Our Lady is located. It took 170 years to take its final form. The cathedral is one of UNESCO monuments. Inside, there are 4 paintings of Ruben. Don’t skip to go down into the vault to see the ancient ruined rock graves.
Groenplaats 21, 2000 Antwerp
Before you leave the square walk to the upper street at Vlaeykensgang number 16. There is an alley which dates back at 15th century where the poorest families of the town and shoemakers used to live. Today, these houses have been replaced by a restaurant and antique shops.
Oude Koornmarkt 16, 2000 Antwerp
A walk at “Ermou street” of Antwerp
Meir street is one of the central streets of Antwerp full of shops. Don’t forget to look at the shortcuts of the streets to admire the old buildings and graffiti. One of these alleys leads to Rubens Museums.
Meir Street, 2000 Antwerp
Rubens Museum (Rubenshuis)
This is actually the Rubens house where he lived with his wife Isabella at 1610. You can look around the old aesthetic, the paintings and their history. Consequently, the yard with the masterful statues has been reconstructed.
Wapper 9-11, 2000 Antwerp.
Before you leave the final museum’s room you should watch the 2 minutes video from the reconstruction.
Museum Plantin- Moretus
900 meters away from the Rubens museum, Plantin –Moretus typography is located. It took its name from Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. The plantin was a French bookbinder and in 1555 he published his first book. Slowly, more writers and scientists followed hi steps. It took 20 years for the typography to be included of the best typographies of Europe. Moreover, the museum, which is the first museum at UNESCO World Heritage site, has two of the oldest typography presses in the world. Dedicate 1 and a half hour, so you can admire the rooms of the old mansion, the library (Greek books included), because it is a time travel.
Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerp
The distances between the districts are close enough so you can walk around.
Maidens’ House Museum (Maagdenhuis)
Ten minutes from the Typography, there is the girls orphanage dates back to the 16th century. At the second biggest room you can find old catalogues with the babies who where given in the orphanage. In the yard, there is still, the small construction where the orphans used to be left, so they could be protected from the cold when the women of the orphanage would find them. At other museums of Antwerp likewise at the orphanage there are Ruben’s and Van Dyck paintings.
Lange Gasthuisstraat 33, 2000 Antwerp
Mas Museum (Museum aan de Stroom)
At Mechelseplen station, 90 metres from the orphanage you can get the tram 7 and only in 14 minutes you can reach Mas Museum at city port. Mas museum is one of the most impressive and modern museum with almost 10 floors. Each floor has a special unique theme (statutes- historic exhibit-several cultures-religious-paintings. Because the enormity of the building you should have a few hours and as you go upstairs the view will be awarded.
Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerp
At the end…The best thing after your sightseeing tour, is to be “lost” at the city’s alleys, walk along the Scheldt river, and admire the city beauty, go to a pub and enjoy locals’ life.