Antwerp has so many aspects that mentioning a few of them would do injustice to all the others. So, the only thing we can say is to come and experience the breath of the city that is one of the biggest ports in the world. It is the hometown of Rubens, Van Dyck and many other world-famous painters.
Antwerp is the city of Plantijn, who made printing an art. The place has the highest concentration of polyglots in the world. It has countless restaurants, pubs, beers, discos and cafe terraces. It has a medieval heart with its rich cultural heritage. It is a place where doing business is always combined with the finest gastronomy and wit.
Antwerp is a proud and free city but tolerant, cosmopolitan and a little bit exotic. Its inhabitants (Sinjoren) know better than any other people what Burgundian lifestyle means. Antwerp is a melting pot of cultures, a hospitable and safe haven. Over the centuries the City-on-the-Scheldt has turned the sinjoren into cosmopolitans. This is wonderful if you are a visitor. You will always meet with a friendly reception and, if at all possible, in your own language.
Except for Brussels, Antwerp is the largest city in Belgium. Still, Antwerp is intimate. There are a web of squares and winding streets, shops and art galleries. The Jugendstil area around the Cogels-Osylei is world famous. In recent years, daring examples of modern architecture have appeared here and there.
In more than one way Antwerp is the diamond in the Flemish crown. Apart from the gothic splendors, the city is the diamond center of the world. Grouped around the Pelikaanstraat are innumerable shops. Their windows glisten with gems and gold. Many of the proprietors are orthodox Jews. Their traditions give an individual character to "the Jerusalem of the North". You can also take an organized trip round the Provincial Diamond Museum.
Antwerp was the home of Rubens, and his house and workshop contain many canvasses to see and admire. Especially his magnificent "Crucifixion and Descent from the Cross".
Art abounds in Antwerp. You can saunter past its Renaissance-style terraces in the Grote Markt, or its pubs and cafes. You may like to visit the Royal Museum of Fine arts. It houses a comprehensive collection of Flemish and Dutch masters. There is a selection of contemporary Belgian art. The Plantin Moretus Museum has its hand-operated printing presses, engravings, and tapestries.
Antwerp buzzes with shops, cafes, and entertainment for the modern visitor. There is the Zoo, as well as the slow-moving River Scheldt. Here boat trips will guide you through the bustling harbor that is also part of Antwerp’s present.
Eating and drinking is a real delight here. Take your time and enjoy it! There are restaurants by the hundred. From refined gastronomy to exotic cuisine or ‘grandmother’s cooking’, it’s all here. And, of course, we mustn’t forget the famous mussels with Belgian fries. The cafes are far too many to count and yet each has an atmosphere of its own.
They all offer an impressive list of beers to choose from. But if you want to try the only true Antwerp beer, order a ‘bolleke’ in customary cafe jargon. Some cafes have hundreds of different beer brands. There is plenty for those with a sweet tooth, too! You’ll find delicious ‘Antwerpse handjes’ at the bakers and the best pralines you’ve ever tasted.
The Meir and the De Keyserlei link the medieval and the 19th-century areas of the city center. The wide shopping streets have trendy boutiques and chic fashion shops. The Sunday bird market is famous far beyond, partly because it sells everything.
Collectors of knick-knacks, collectibles and curios can go treasure-hunting in the little shops. Go to Hoogstraat and the Kloosterstraat or the Saturday market near the Cathedral. You can find something that catches the eye amongst the bric-a-brac at the Friday market. For valuable antiques or objets d’art visit the Leopoldstraat and Schuttershofstraat.