is the largest city in Flanders and is situated in the northern part of Belgium. The city of Antwerp is home to about half a million inhabitants and is made up of many fascinating neighbourhoods and districts, in addition to the areas more typically frequented by tourists. The city bubbles with activity day and night.
“Antwerp is easy to get to. You can meet people of all nationalities on the Market Place, you can find everything you need here.” This may sound like a contemporary description, but actually these words were used by the 16th century printer Christopher Plantin in order to explain to Pope Gregory XIII why he had chosen to settle in Antwerp. It also explains why this historical city by the river still continues to enchant visitors. Antwerp is a bustling trading, artistic and cultural centre, with the typical atmosphere of an international port: cosmopolitan and hospitable, with a hint of the surprising and exotic.
The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe and extends to the north of the city over a distance of twenty five kilometres, up to the border with the Netherlands. The petrochemical and telecommunication industries have made of this area an important industrial and economic centre. Antwerp lies at the heart of the world’s diamond trade.
But there is more to Antwerp than trade and business. Antwerp is also known as a city of painters, whose great names include 17th century icons as Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens and contemporary artists who gained world fame such as Sam Dillemans, Luc Tuymans, Jan Fabre and Panamarenko. The many splendid historical buildings in the centre of the city, including those that date from Antwerp's Golden Era in the 16th and 17th centuries, are reminders of the city’s rich cultural past. On the other hand, Antwerp is a ‘city by the river’ with contemporary architecture often referring to the harbour or the maritime life in the city.
is a city of fashion designers and fashion trendsetters and so a real shoppers’ paradise! The number of Antwerp designers that have scored internationally continues to grow. The so-called ‘Antwerp Six’ (Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee) are graduates of the Antwerp Fashion Academy and the pioneers of the Antwerp fashion movement.
Many different cultures live closely together in Antwerp: the Jewish community between Central station and Berchem station, Chinatown in the side streets of Central station, the international diamond district are only a few of the city’s many faces. At the multicultural Saturday market you can feast on Flemish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Moroccan and Turkish delicacies.
Since a number of years Antwerp is undergoing a face lift. Substantive architectural projects are creating new contemporary landmarks all over the city. Take a look at the new Palace of Justice in the south district. In the north district the old port site is part of the urban renovation. The MAS ‘Museum aan de stroom’ for/about the city & the world is located there. It is a new contemporary building and it will house as from May 2011 the diverse collections of Antwerp maritime history, folklore and ethnographical art.