• Ankitha Prakash

Atypical Antwerp: Antwerp, Belgium, 2017

Antwerpen (in Dutch) or Antwerp is the famous port city on Belgium River’s Scheldt. This Flemish region has lot of history preserved even today including its name. Yes, it is said that Antwerp is a derivative of “handwerpen” in Dutch meaning hand throwing that is associated to the killing of a giant by the mythical Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo. Brabo once killed a giant, Druon Antigon, who asked money from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the river Scheldt. When they failed to pay, he would cut off their hands and threw them into the river because of which even Brabo removed the hand of this giant and threw it in the river. This mythical story is still shown by the statue in front of the Antwerp city hall (further in the blog).

I had saved two days of my entire trip to spend here. As this city was very famous for its diamond collections, the first day I just walked around the city to explore its culture and also spent some quality time on its streets while on the second day, I preferred to see the city by hop on hop off bus that takes you around the city for about one hour giving you some pre recorded audio information about all the places you visit. The places included seeing the Plantentuin: botanical garden, Chinatown, Ruben’s House, the old town, the Cathedral of our lady the Brabo fountain in front of the city hall and the lambermont square.

📍 Plantentuin

This Botanical Garden was listed as a valuable landscape for the city of Antwerp and its inhabitants. This is indeed a green haven in the city center with a wide variety of exceptional trees and shrubs, around 2000 herbs, cactuses and a lot of foreign plants. It is also famous for growing medicinal plants to supply the St Elisabeth’s hospital next door. A walk around the garden truly provides a serene relaxation.

📍 Chinatown

Chinatown, well known for its pan-Asian atmosphere, is located on Van Wesenbekestraat, a street in Antwerp, Belgium. Historically supporting the Chinese community that settled in Antwerp post-World War II, the district houses an abundance of restaurants offering a variety of Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, Thai and Nepali. Various Pan-Asian organizations and the biggest Asian supermarket in the country named Sun Wah is found here. Both at the entrance and the end of the street, two Chinese lions guard the street.[2] A paifang known as the "Pagodepoort" (Pagoda Gate) was erected at the southern entrance to the street in 2010 after four years of planning.

📍 The Ruben’s House

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist and diplomat. He is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. The Rubenshuis ("Rubens House") is the former home and workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in Antwerp. Purchased in 1610, Rubens had the Flemish townhouse renovated and extended based on designs by Rubens himself. After the renovations the house and its courtyard garden had the outlook of an Italian palazzo, which reflected Rubens' artistic ideals. The ensemble is now a museum dedicated mainly to the work of Rubens and his contemporaries

📍The Old Town

The old town is the heart of the city and host to the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Old Town Square. This old city centre is steeped in history. The narrow streets and ancient buildings are a must see. It also is a host to The Plantin-Moretus Museum which is the only museum in the world to be classified as a Unesco World Heritage site. In the shadow of the Cathedral of Our Lady, the city teems with life in intimate pubs and restaurants. The banks of the River Scheldt are a great place for a breath of fresh air.

📍The Cathedral of Our Lady

The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium. It contains a number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos. The belfry of the cathedral is included in the Belfries of Belgium and France entry in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

📍The City Hall

The Stadhuis (City Hall) of Antwerp, Belgium, stands on the western side of Antwerp's Grote Markt (Great Market Square). Erected between 1561 and 1565 after designs made by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and several other architects and artists, this Renaissance building incorporates both Flemish and Italian influences. The Stadhuis is inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List along with the belfries of Belgium and France. This is host to the famous Brabo Fountain as discussed in the beginning.

📍The Lambermont Square

Octagonal peripheral square and central monumental fountain as centerpiece.The buildings is fairly well preserved and consists civilian houses with plastered facades from around 1890-1900, mostly in neoclassical and eclectic style. Since 1994 the Lambermont square and Leopold the Waelstraat are protected.

And finally a visit to the port side of Antwerp.

It was indeed a nice time spent here 🙂

The next stop was to Gent! 😍