Diamonds everywhere, typical architecture, cherry beer and lots of chocolate. Welcome to Antwerpen – the most remarkable city in Belgium.
To be honest this was the first Belgian city I’ve visited and I loved it. My plan included so many things to do and see and I was afraid that one weekend won’t be enough. Fortunately, I fulfilled my initial plan.
Central Station Antwerpen
Our tour began at the Central Station of Antwerpen. It’s a real work of art and it’s pointed to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world according to TIME and not only. The station is a must see attraction whether you travel by train or not. The construction was completed in 1905. Platforms are located on three levels connected by escalators.
The Cathedral of Our Lady – Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal
When I saw the Cathedral of Our Lady I thought, “Wow!”. This is the largest Gothic cathedral in northwest Europe. It looks like the ornaments on the facade are made of lace, not of stone. The construction of the cathedral took about 170 years (1352 -1521) but one of the towers was never finished. Four masterpieces by the famous artist Peter Paul Rubens can be seen inside the cathedral, including “The Raising of the Cross”.
Entrance fee: €6
Address: Groenplaats 21, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Grote Markt square and the statue of Brabo
Grote Markt is the main square located in the historical center of Antwerpen. The square is surrounded by typical medieval houses with gold statues on the rooftops. There is a big statue in honor of the brave soldier Brabo in the center. The legend says, that there was a giant who stood on one bank of the river Schelde. All the captains had to pay a fee to the giant to enter the harbor of Antwerpen with their ships. If they refused, he simply cut the hands of the crew and threw them into the river. Brabo managed to beat the giant, cut his hand and threw it into the river. That’s why you can actually see so many hand statues everywhere in Antwerpen.
Beer, beer and more beer…
During our stay, I couldn’t resist trying some Belgian beers. Near the Grote Markt we found a nice pub called Paters Vaetje. They serve over a hundred different types of beer, including the cherry beer Kriek, which was very tasty. Funny fact, each different beer had a special glass of the same brand.
Address: Blauwmoezelstraat 1, Antwerpen 2000 , Belgium
The church of “St. Carolus Borromeus “
Walking along the narrow streets of Antwerpen, we came across with a small square and a church. That’s the church of “St. Carolus Borromeus”, built in Baroque style. It is not as great as the cathedral, but it’s very beautiful inside. Because of the interior, the church is called “the marble temple”.
Address: Hendrik Conscienceplein 12, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
The exotic market
Next morning surprised us with unexpected drizzle but this did not stop us from going out and exploring Antwerp. We had a quick breakfast on foot and we marched to another landmark – the Stadsschouwburg (The City Theater). Frankly speaking, we went there because of the international market. I love places like this. You can find fresh fruits and vegetables, olives, bread, meat, even clothes and, of course, chocolates. We tried different types of olives, typical Belgian sausages and a homemade Turkish borek. Yummy!
Address: Theaterplein, Oudevaartplaats, Antwerpen 2000, Belgium
Opens every Saturdays 8h-16h
The Castle Het Steen
Close to Grote Markt, on the bank of the River Schelde, is situated a castle. It’s called Het Steen and it was built between 1200 and 1225. It’s considered as the oldest building in Antwerp. The name “Het Steen” means “The Rock.” It was used to control the ships sailing on the river. Later, it was turned into a prison and served as such until 1827.
Address: Steenplein 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
The best view
I really like the idea to get on a high building and enjoy the view from there. The KBC Tower (Tower of farmers) is the second tallest building after the cathedral. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enter in the building and we had to improvise. During our walk near the river Schelde, we found a fancy restaurant, called Zuiderterras / RAS, on a few levels with a terrace on top. The view from there is great. Unfortunately, it was too cold to have a drink outside.
Address: Ernest van Dijckkaai 37,2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Despite this short stay in Antwerpen, I really loved the city. Actually, since then, I visited it many times. This is my favorite Belgian city so far. I’m going to add more ideas and tips what to do in Antwerp soon. Stay tuned.