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bootlegga Antwerp - A travel report by James
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Antwerp,  Belgium - flag Belgium -  Antwerpen
8548 readers

bootlegga's travel reports

A diamond in the rough

  21 votes
Page: 1 2
Antwerp, one of Europe's largest seaports, is known the world over as the diamond capital of the world, but it has a lot more to offer than diamonds.

Centraal Station
Centraal Station
As part of my trip to NW Europe, I spent a day in Antwerp. A city of about 500,000 people, it is Belgium’s second largest city and one of the world’s biggest seaports. As the diamond capital of the world, millions of carats of diamonds pass through the city every year.

It also offers stunning architecture and a fascinating history. A large portion of the downtown (near Centraal station) is also mostly pedestrian only, so you can enjoy walking without the worries of being run over. The temperature is relatively mild year round, with average temps near -2 in January and 20 in July/August, with average precipitation.

Be sure to check out Antwerp official tourist office website;

The city’s own website is;

Antwerp map;

Favourite spots:
OLV cathedral
OLV cathedral
By far the defining landmark in Antwerp, the Cathedral of our Lady (known as Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekat-hedraal to the locals) is one of the most amazing churches/cathedrals in all of Europe. Construction on this stunning cathedral was started in 1352 and was finished in 1481. It towers an incredible 123 metres (about 20 stories) and has some of the most incredible inlay carvings and craftsmanship of any church I’ve seen. Most of the original furnishings are gone, as the cathedral has been looted several times in its history, but four of Ruben’s masterpieces do remain.

For more in depth information, check out the cathedral website;

What's really great:
Walking down de Keyserlej
Walking down de Keyserlej
It’s very easy to see much of downtown Antwerp’s sights, because it is all so close to the train station. To walk to the Scheldt River takes only about an hour, and on the way, you’ll see most of Antwerp’s most beautiful buildings. While you stroll down the cobblestone streets, you can also shop for some of Europe’s best fashions.

Het Steen
Het Steen
Besides the Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp has a plethora of fine buildings and cobblestone streets to gaze at and wander down.

The Het Steen (Stone in Dutch) is an old fortress, built in about 1200 to protect Antwerp and the harbour. It replaced a wooden fortress built in the 900s. While small in size, the walls are stout and in a strategic location. Located inside is a small maritime museum. Nearby is Vleehuis, a beautiful building, which friends have called the world’s largest gingerbread house.

In a square a block away from the Cathedral of our Lady are several stunning buildings dating back from Antwerp’s big boom in the 1600s. The Stadthuis (town hall) is decked with colourful flags and the Grotemarkt (Guild Market) is topped with bronzed statues.

The Stadthuis
The Stadthuis
While I didn’t stay overnight in Antwerp, there are lots of hotels near Centraal station. Both the Atlanta and Florida hotels looked very clean and affordable (60-75 Euros per night). The Tourist Hotel is also nearby and a bit cheaper.

The Grotemarkt
The Grotemarkt
Most of Antwerp’s nightclubs and karaoke bars are near the Grotemarkt.

Just across from the Grotemarkt was a pretty good Irish pub. I believe it was called the Dubliner (but aren't they all).

The KBC Tower
The KBC Tower
Sights II

If you feel like a stroll, simply head out the west exit of Centraal station and walk down de Keyserlej, which is blocks long and connects with the Meir, a street filled with shops, restaurants, and some of Antwerp’s older buildings. It also heads right to the Scheldt river and along the way, you will also get to see the Cathedral of our Lady. Should you choose, you can head a block north and see the Grotemarkt and the Stadthuis as well, then head west and you’ll be right at Het Steen castle.

Looking very odd and out of place is the KBC tower – Europe’s first skyscraper in 1930. It is about 97 m tall and resembles a Cold War era Communist bloc apartment building. Personally, I found it an eyesore, but the Belgians don’t seem to care, so who am I to judge?

Near Diamant museum is a the Stadepark, a nice place to sit and relax. Just south of the Meir, is Rubenshuis, the house in which Rubens lived for a time. Also located close to Centraal station is Antwerp Zoo.

The area near Centraal station is home to many excellent restaurants. Antwerp’s Chinatown is also nearby and chock a block full of Chinese and Thai places to grab a bite.

One place I ate at was called Hector Chicken, Belgium’s version of KFC, with one big exception. The food tasted great, was cheap and very filling.

Other recommendations:
The Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe
There are plenty of great places nearby to visit. Brussels is fairly close by train, as is the Channel coast and Flanders.

Likewise, a trip into the Netherlands is easily arranged and quite quick. The TGV also runs right to Paris. The City of Lights is a must see for everyone.

Published on Thursday May 19th, 2005

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Fri, May 20 2005 - 04:56 AM rating by gloriajames

well written! 5*

Fri, May 20 2005 - 03:55 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent and interesting report

Fri, May 20 2005 - 03:33 AM rating by mistybleu

Russ, veyr informative with some stunning pictures - great job.


Fri, May 20 2005 - 03:08 AM rating by magsalex

Great report!

Thu, May 19 2005 - 08:55 PM rating by picasso

Great report with a lot of interesting images around the city.KBC Tower definitely looks close to Soviet blook apartment building design,athough not that massive in shape (and it is really agly to my eye) to compare with all
other buildings(truly from fairytale) around town from your images.*****


Thu, May 19 2005 - 08:07 PM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report and excellent pictures too

Thu, May 19 2005 - 06:54 PM rating by bear495

Nice job, James. Keep up the good work!


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