Tuesday, May 01, 2007

ANTWERP- DIAMOND TOWN

Antwerp is a beautyful city, on the right bank of the river Scheldt which is linked to the North Sea. Antwerp has a port which is one of the world's largest, and has a high level of cargo shipping and oil refineries traffic. In Europe, only Rotterdam's port is larger.

Antwerp had been a fortified city but only one thing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel, a beautiful castle, called "The Steen" which means "stone". Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications.

Antwerp had a big artistic reputation in the 17th century, because of its school of painting, where Rubens and Van Dyck, and many others have been.

The atmosphere in this city is very cosmopolitan. You see people of all races and colors, to begin with a lot of Jewish men with their long bearts, high hats and their cork-screw like pigtails hanging over each ear. Most of them are diamond traders. Antwerp is well known for the diamond industry and there are whole districts where you only find jewleries (diamonds) shops, wholesales and workshops.

Even I didn't dare to take a picture of them, they looked too serious !

In these districts around 20.000 Orthodox Jews are living. They had always been here and Antwerp is the major European center for them. During the war so many had been murdered or put in concentration camps but after the war survivors returned. These Diamond districts are just a few minutes from the central station. As I am not Mrs. Bill Gates, I refrained from going there and anyway I had no time either.

First thing I saw was the beautiful construction of the Central Station, completed in 1905. The Station itself is very modern, but the original building was kept, which makes the Station special.

Here are some views

when I came out I saw these Elephant statues made out of hundreds of pieces of different woods.

They just had put them up and the artist told me that they will remain there. The Zoo is just besides the Station, so in some way it should relate the Station to the Zoo.

I had to take the tramway to arrive to the Central place with its beautiful Guildhouses from the 16th century and the

City Hall you see here with European flags

In this Restaurant I had lunch. It was Spanish and I ate a Tortilla

And as usual Japonese Tourists !

A horse carrige for tourists

This statue was built in honor of a giant called Antigoon, who lived near the river Scheldt. He asked for a toll from all those who wanted to cross the river. On refusal, the giant cut off one hand and threw it into the Scheldt. But then the giant was killed by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's hand too and also threw it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, because "hand werpen" (Dutch) means "hand-throwing". That's at least what the official legend says, because there are also others.

open air cafés and restaurants

and also artists

Then I arrived at the castle "The Steen"

and the avenues which mark the position of the original fortifications

The statue of the giant

and all along this place, people do their pick nick or just enjoy the river

A sightseeing boat and far in the background you can see the huge cranes of the port

"Our Lady's Cathedral" is the largest cathedral in the Low Countries. Inside are several triptychs from Rubens. It is the tallest building in the city.

Some little streets

The statue of Rubens. He is burried in Antwerp in the St. James Cathedral.

The Hilton Hotel near the Station

a little church squeezed between houses with a beautiful entrance

and a Tatoo shop, if you want to inhance your beauty !

If you want to read more about Antwerp's history and about the Diamonds go here to THE DIAMONDLAND it's very interesting.

I have also visited the Zoo and will show it to you on Saturday 5th May. This Zoo is very old and dates from 1844 !! It has a lot of notable buildings.

13 comments:

mar said...

You do wonderful city reviews, Gattina, this was no exception. Lovely tour, great pics and loved the legend of the giant, whether it is true or not (we will never know! ). I hope the Spanish tortilla tasted very good :)

Captain Lifecruiser said...

Wow! I'm so in love with that Castle Steen - it look so Medevial, as taken right out of a fairytale. Butt I also love all the other buildings.

I felt like I was back in North Holland again with all that fantastic architecture. It is rather similar to the architecture in both Amsterdam and Haarlem which is the only two cities I've been to there. Still Antwerpen has it's own charm and that is what I like so much about travelling - you get to see new things all the time!

The elephant statues is a nice touch too. I love unusual stuff like this. And what a work to creat them!

...and you even showed us a Tattoo shop! Butt - no Tattoos....???? *giggles*

I so enjoyed it - just exactly what I needed right now and with that nice weather you're having over there!

Was it 29 degrees now too? In that case I need some beers after all the walking ;-)

Oh, how I wished that I really was there..... My travelling instinct really is on it's top right now!

I'm really looking forward going to the zoo at Saturday :-)

Captain Lifecruiser said...

You know, no worries about the weather - I can book a flight over to Belgium and you'll have bad weather at once! *giggles*

(Note my bad weather curse! *lol*)

claudie said...

Bonsoir Gattina
Merci d'être passé sur mon blog! Je me suis bagarée toute l'après midi pour écrire mon billet et je n'arrive pas à sortir du code htlm! Pierre m'aidera quand il rentrera du travail! C'est bien de pouvoir s'exprimer en français, ça repose! Bref! heureusement que j'arrive à Antwerpen pour me changer les idées!
C'est une ville magnifique! Vraiment cette architecture est merveilleuse! J'aime beaucoup l'histoire du géant! Nous n'avons pas ici d'histoire de géant! Dommage! Tu as du vraiment bien profiter, il y a tellement de choses à voir! Alors j'attends le zoo avec impatience! C'est au zoo de Münich, je crois que des bébés grizzlis sont nés. J'attends ce soir le débat Sarko/Ségo! ça risque d'être assez chaud!
Bonne soirée!

Claudie said...

Gattina ça y est tout est rentré dans l'ordre et j'ai publié mon billet. Si tu viens tu verras la petite ville où j'habite.

Melli said...

Ohhhhhh WOW! I really need to come to Belgium.... This is wOnderful!!! I love the cobblestone streets EVERYwhere! And the castle -- oh I want to go to that castle! The Hilton Hotel - it looks VERY old! Is it really an OLD building that Hilton converted to a hotel? Or is it just reproduction to make it look that way? It fits in so WELL with the rest of the city! And I LOVE the story of the giant! I'm SURE it's true! Oh! And the elephants! I can't wait to see the Zoo on Saturday -- but I LOVE those wooden elephants and I think it's so cool that you got to be there when they were just being put up!

RennyBA said...

What a wonderful, readable, interesting tour in this city with a lot of history. Thanks for sharing Gattina - the pics where great!
There are a lot of relations between Norway as a sea nation and Antwepen from hundreds of years back you know.
It's too long since I've been there but thanks to you, I got the chance to refresh my memories!
Your a great cruiser fellow:-)

Captain Lifecruiser said...

You have to go to Claudies blog, here hometown is so.... cute :-)

Sword Girl said...

Very fascinating! That is interesting to know about the diamonds and the giant. At first I thought the giant was gonna look like a monster, but when I clicked the picture I saw that it looked more like a very tall man. The castle is so gorgeous too! :-D

aka R'acquel said...

Oh, i'm a big fan of central stations so much! Especially the town spaces that feature as a centrepoint too! Couldn't help but laugh at the commentary of Japanese tourists. So many in the tourist town i live in but i guess what you notice more is the giant busses that block up the road! Thank you for the great tour Gattina, the photos were a great delight and the castle was also splendid!

Sanni said...

Aaaaaah - I´ve been to Antwerp once. We spent a wonderful weekend there (Luis was invited to a birthday party of a Belgium friend). We went to the amazing Zoo on Saturday and had some sightseeing on Sunday. Visisting your wonderful tour feels like being back again! Thank you, Gattina!

Vielen, vielen Dank für die exzellente Tour. Ich fand Antwerpen schon toll, als ich da war - schon alleine der Bahnhof! Jetzt gefällt´s mir noch besser =)

claudie said...

I come back tonight to see again your photos! Cette ville est splendide! On a l'impression d'être dans des décors réalisés pour des fimls! Cela me fait la même impression que lorsque j'ai aperçu pour la première fois le château de Carcassone!

TorAa said...

Here I did learn a lot about Anvers. I have not been there since 1965 - when we went up the Schelde with a tiny boat.

Wonderful reportage. and great pictures

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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