Considered the cultural capital of Belgium, Antwerp is a port city located in the northern part of the country. It is the 2nd largest city of the nation and is a perfect mix of history and modernism. Antwerp has so much to offer to travelers visiting here, whether they are interested in architecture, museums, art, shopping, or the world-famous Antwerp diamonds and the Antwerp diamond center. Let’s move ahead and delve into the beautiful attractions offered by Antwerp.
For Art Admirers
• Rubens' House (Rubenshuis)
Paul Rubens the acclaimed painter purchased House No 9 in 1610 and lived till his death there. He resided in the left wing of the house and turned the right-wing into his studio. The city of Antwerp acquired this house in 1937 and restored the house to its former glory by 1946. All of the 10 rooms are furnished in the décor of Ruben’s age and display many of his original paintings including the famous “Adam and Eve in Paradise”. Paintings of several other artists like Bruegel, Veronese, Otto Venius, and Snyders are also displayed here.
• Royal Museum of Fine Arts
This museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts. The collection is displayed on two floors. The ground floor nearly has 1500 pieces of art, mostly paintings, and sculptures of the modern period while the first floor is devoted to art pieces created by Old Masters of Dutch and Flemish schools of art.
• Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS)
The 10 storied municipal museum situated close to the harbor is an astounding piece of modern architecture, looking like a block puzzle of glass panels and patterned stones. The exhibits include pre-Columbian art, a “Saluting Admiral Couple” sculpture by fellow Antwerp resident Guillaume Bijl and several other pieces of modern art with several yet to be displayed. In all, the museum has around 50,000 pieces of art in its possession. It also features the amazing “Diamond Pavilion”, conceived and created in collaboration with Antwerp Diamond Center, and the Province of Antwerp Diamond Museum. Here you can know all about the acclaimed Antwerp Diamonds and the rich history of the diamond trade.
For Architecture Aficionados
• Cathedral of Our Lady
It is Belgium's largest Gothic church which took nearly 150 years to build and was finally finished in 1521. The church was damaged several times due to natural calamities and political instability and many of the treasures were lost and never recovered. The restoration work started in the early 1900s and went on till 1983. The remaining artworks are proudly displayed in the treasury as well as naves and aisles of the cathedral.
• Butcher's Hall (Vleeshuis)
This gothic brick structure situated close to the Scheldt River was built between 1501 to 1504 and so named as it housed the butchers' guild then. This houses the museum of applied art and archaeology now. The museum displays prehistoric artifacts of Roman, Egyptian, and Merovingian origin including weapons, sculpture, ceramics, and coins.
For Foodies, Shoppers, and Sightseeing in General
• Chocolate Nation
Located just opposite Antwerp's Central Station, Chocolate Nation is the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world. Every step of chocolate production is displayed to visitors through interactive and multimedia presentations. It also teaches how chocolate can be presented and served in different ways. And finally, lest we forget, samples are given free and you can shop the different types of chocolate delicacies from the museum’s chocolate shop.
• The Meir
The famous shopping street in Belgium, the 5th Avenue of Antwerp, is a shopping wonder. The Meir is named after the Dutch word “Meere’ which means lake. The Meir caters to every kind of clientele, from budget-friendly to the expensive haute couture. The street is pedestrian-friendly and wide and connects the Antwerp central station to the famous Grote Markt.
• Grote Markt
Grote Markt or Grand Place in English is situated right in the middle of the old town and features several guild houses and a historic town hall. The famous Brabo Fountain is situated in the middle which displays the statue of Silvius Brabo flinging the severed hand of Giant Antigonus into the Scheldt River. The Town Hall is located on the Markt’s western side and displays the paintings by H. Leys depicting the history of Antwerp. Several former guild houses built in the 16th and 17th century also surround the Grote Markt, the most notable of which are Huis van de Kruideniers and Gildehuis der Kuipers.
For Jewellery Lovers
• DIVA Museum for Diamonds, Jewellery and Silver
DIVA museum is the biggest diamond museum in the world. It was created as a replacement of and by merging the Diamond Museum and the Sterckshof Silver Museum. It displays the various facets of diamond trade with separate sections devoted to extraction, processing, and industrial use of diamonds with diamond cutters working in real-time. Genuine uncut and cut diamonds are also displayed here along with the copies of world-famous and highly-priced diamonds.
• Antwerp Diamond district
Antwerp is known as the diamond capital of the world and the diamond district is the hub of the diamond trade in Antwerp. The Antwerp diamond district is also known as the Diamond Quarter and is situated next to the Central station. The whole area is about a square mile consisting of several blocks and thus known as the ‘Diamond Square Mile’. Antwerp diamond center and four diamond trading centers are also located in the district. Diamond shops are open every day except Saturdays. Take a guided tour of the famous Diamond square mile and learn about the engrossing world of diamonds and the interesting history of the diamond trade in the modern century.
This is our brief list to visit the very best that Antwerp has to offer although there are other attractions too. Don’t forget to visit AËLRA JOAILLERIE, located at the heart of the Antwerp Diamond district, the right place to be if you are in the diamond business. The district is close to the old town and Antwerp Central Station and has all the facilities and convenience for the diamond industry or anybody interested in diamonds including affordable hotels, laboratories, cutting and polishing workshops, and jewellery designers all in close proximity. Make sure to visit us and purchase some Antwerp diamond jewellery when you are here, you are sure to get a good deal.