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There’s more to Antwerp than Diamonds

Antwerp is a beautiful historic city which is also famous for its fashion industry as well as for its port which is the second largest in Europe and the departure point for ‘Belgium’ cars Nigerians love to purchase. It is also a major hub for antapa Hollandaise wax fabrics. 

From its ancient architectural structures which have found a place coexisting side by side with its contemporary buildings to its history, there is more than enough to keep tourists to this city on Belgium’s River Scheldt. 

Cathedral of Our Lady

One of the signatures of Antwerp is the Cathedral of Our Lady, the patron saint of Antwerp and its unfinished second tower. The cathedral, a masterpiece of lacework in stone, stands at 123 metres tall and towers the city’s skylines as if watching over and protecting her.

Even though it took 169 years to build from 1352-1521, only the northern of the two planned towers, was finished.  The Cathedral is an iconic treasury with seven naves which house several art pieces from the masters including the works ‘Elevation of the Cross’ (1610), ‘Descent from the Cross’ (1612) and the Resurrection Triptych (1612) by Rubens. 

On August 15, the church has an elaborate celebration to mark the feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven with a process around parts of the old town. 

Rubenshuis

Once home to the celebrated Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens, Rubenshuis was built Italian style by the artist in 1611 as a home and studio. He began the construction in 1609 after marrying his wife Isabella Brant who sold it after his death. Antwerp city later bought the house in 1937 and had it restored. Today it is a museum open to public who can experience firsthand how Rubens lived and most of all for art lovers, fourteen of his works which adorn the house. Furniture which existed in his time, the formal garden, baroque portico and the compound’s rear facade, have all been stylishly and extensively preserved.

Rubenshuis is a museum which the late British rock star David Bowie loved to visit. The museum is currently showing a monumental altarpiece from Bowie’s collection, St Catherine which the Venetian painter, Tintoretto made between 1560 and 1570 for Venice’s church of San Geminiano. It was one of the first art works the music icon purchased. 

Antwerp Centraal

Antwerp Centraal is Antwerp’s main railway station which connects passengers to other parts of Belgium and Europe. It has been adjudged the world’s fourth greatest train station (2009) and was awarded first place as the most beautiful railway station in the world (2014).

Tour guides inform that, “The original building was constructed between 1895 and 1905, and served as a replacement for the original terminus of the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp railway. The stone terminus building, with an impressive dome above the waiting hall (75 meters high!), was designed by Louis Delacenserie, a Belgian architect from Bruges. On special request of King Leopold II, Delacenserie used the station of Luzern (Switzerland) and the Pantheon (Rome, Italy) as his source of inspiration. The train shed (185 meters long & 44 meters high) was engineered by Clement van Bogaert and built out of steel and glass.” 

Surrounding the edifice are cafes, restaurants, the diamond district and Antwerp’s zoo. 

Palace on the Meir

The Meir is Antwerp’s shopping street and is home to almost every fashion house. Right in the heart of it, is what was once a royal palace built in the 18th century and was residence to the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, Willem I of the Netherlands and the Belgian Royal House.

The perfect spot when in need for a lunch break away from shopping is the luxury Café Imperial and ended with some pralines by chocolatier, Dominique Persoone.

Belgian actress and model, Astrid Bryan was crowned as ‘Princess Astrid The First of the Palace on the Meir’ and will promote the historic site as well as give acte-de-présence at events, expositions and official openings for one year.

MoMu

Mode Museum also known as MoMu is Antwerp’s fashion museum. It is located on the Nationalstraat (National Street) and used to be housed in a 19th century building that was originally constructed as a department store for the New England Menswear and Children’s fashion shop.

The museum, according to its owners, ModeNatie, “Twice each year, the MoMu presents a new exhibition, based on its own collection of 25, 000 pieces and completed with loaned works. The expositions might tell a designer’s story or focus on a fashion-related theme. The MoMu doesn’t have permanent displays, but rather offers a varied program focusing on the different dimensions of the fascinating world of fashion. 

“The MoMu also has a scientific library for historic and contemporary fashion, textiles and ethnic costume, which is located on the 4th floor of the museum. With over 15.000 books, an archive full of valuable reference works, hundreds of contemporary and historic magazines and a fast-growing digital database of images, the MoMu library is one of the top libraries in the world in its field. Whether you’re a student, designer, visitor or fashionista: everyone can have free access to the library.” 

De Grote Markt van Antwerpen

The Grote Markt known as the Great Market Square of Antwerp is a town square situated in the heart of the old city quarters and could be described as its nucleus. Every visit to the square offered a new delight. There are series of activities from weddings, bazaars and food festivals among others. It is surrounded by the elaborately designed 16th century city hall as well as several other guildhalls of that era, restaurants and cafés, all a stone throw away from River Scheldt.

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