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.
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.