Antwerp, the diamond center of the world, is a city also known for Flemish artists such as van Dyck and Rubens as well as for fashion. The largest city in Flanders and the second largest harbour in Europe is splendiferous. It boasts many historical buildings reminiscent of the 16th century, the city’s golden era.
This part of our trip was a last minute addition, designed to acquaint ourselves to our closest cousins who were born and raised in Belgium and whom we hardly knew. We only spent a couple hours in Antwerp proper then went home to Olen to be with family. In hindsight, we should have spent more time in Belgium as our family was a delight to be with and Antwerp was beautiful, even in the cold rain.
Brabo Fountain in Grote Markt (city square) in front of the impressive city hall: Built in the 1880s, this fountain depicts the mythical hero Brabo. Legend has it that a giant, Antigoon, would demand a high toll for ships wanting to enter the city and if they refused the crew’s hands would be cut off. So Brabo fought and defeated the giant, cutting it’s hands and head and throwing it into the river Scheldt. This is what the statue depicts. I’m sure there’s a deeper political message though.
Guild Houses lining the Grote Markt.
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal (Cathedral of our Lady): this was built over time in the 14th and 16th centuries. You can hardly take it all in with one photo so imagine how impressive it was back in the day. Talk about medieval skyscrapers. Inside are works of art by Rubens but we did not see them.
Monument of the Tower Builders: sculpture by Pieter Appelman on the outer wall of the Cathedral of our Lady.
Stadsfeestzaal (City Festival Hall): built at the turn of the 20th century, this large hall was destroyed by fire in 2000. It was reconstructed and opened in 2007 and now features an upscale shopping center.
Statue of Antoon van Dijck (Anthony van Dyck), a reknowned Flemish Baroque artist, on Meir Street.
Entrance to Antwerp’s “Chinatown”
Centraal Station: Would you believe that this impressive building was built specifically to be a railway station? Built in the late 1890s it is sometimes known as the ‘Railway Cathedral’.
Our dinner in Olen: delicious
There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now: This should be my motto. I had delicious hot chocolate here. Oh my! I would seriously fly back for more.
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