It is the city of diamonds as 80 to 90 % of the world’s rough diamonds are cut and traded and also home to a mythical giant named Antigoon who chopped of hands and threw them into the Scheldt river as toll which gave Antwerp its name meaning “to throw a hand”. Those were wonderful days, in a little and very stylish city called Antwerp. Back then when supposedly Gin was invented and the river was filled with drunk sailors which literally hasn’t changed at all. The wharf still looks amazing and the nuclear power plant in the distance (best seen from the top of MAS – the Lego shaped red bricked museum) is still terrifying and funny (remember the Simpsons) at the same time.
I love this city and another visit will follow soon as i still haven’t explored half of the attractions it has to offer especially when it comes to fashion.
So here we go, things you need to see and do unless you don’t want to,…. i am not your mother.
The walk-through the city
Where ever you want to start (best i guess – start at your hotel) you need to see the Central Station. This thing is a humongous, breathtaking and splendid achievement of beauty, technological advancement and a historical landmark. To achieve this harmony between the past and the future is mind-boggling.
Because Antwerp has so many beautiful corners, hidden alleys and architectural highlights it is highly possible, that you will stumble over most of them just by following your instincts. If you don’t have any try to incorporate the Rubenshuis (House of Rubens) located in the former studio and home of … you guessed right …. Peter Paul Rubens. Throughout the entire house you can marvel at masterpiece after masterpiece and get your inspiration for your summer residence interior design.
MAS & ‘t Eilandje
The MAS (mentioned above) is also worth a visit as it is located in ‘t Eilandje which is the hotspot for hipsters and the art people. Surrounded by the wharf with yachts and sailing boats you can climb Mount MAS up to the top after visiting its museum and enjoy the best view of the city. This brick by brick building also houses one of Antwerps hottest restaurants which i still need to test named ‘t Zilte, so for now i can only give it a “might be awesome” recommendation.
Then there is the Cathedral of our lady, a roman catholic cathedral which is one of those never completed churches and contains works by Rubens, Otto van Veen and Marten de Vos, and when the sun sets slowly over the city its gives the whole building a mesmerizing look and also a wonderful opportunity to get an easy vacation shot for instagram (hey social media is also part of our lives).
Food & Beer and also Cheese
So now you have seen it all and what else to do then get a delicious beer in one of the thousand charming “pubs” (e.g. Paters Vaetje) where you can order beer like you would order champagne and enjoy that with some of Belgium finest foods (fries, stoemp, the stoofvlees or moules frites – see brussels tip) or checkout Graanmarkt 13 for some haute cuisine. If you want to take it up a notch, visit the brewery itself where De Konninck beer is made and experience the thirst quenching moments and additional it is indeed an amazing and highly sophisticated “museum”.
One of my favorite experiences on the whole trip was the cheese tasting at Kaasaffinerie Van Tricht where my whole world turned around after i understood the difference between good cheese and let’s call it the yellow stuff that you get at a supermarket pre-sliced where each one basically tastes the same.
It’s just fashion, baby!
When it is time to spend some hard-earned cash there is no place like Antwerp with its insane sales (-50% if you buy 2 and -70% if you buy more than 2 pieces … that’s math i love), and intriguing concept stores filled to the roof with known designers and wild young ones (Verso). This would be an article by itself to show you guys the fashion side of Antwerp with the famous Fashion Academy and the MoMu (fashion museum).
That’s it for now and i think if i visit Antwerp again i will write another article or update this one….
Last random true fact: The first printed newspaper in the world was the Relation in Antwerp.
Last fact i just made up: In the Antwerp Zoo the Koalas tried to escape several times by pretending to be stuffed. As my mom always said: “Never trust a Koala”.