Tips for visiting Antwerp in Flanders, the city of diamonds

The great tourist attraction of some of the Flemish cities, such as Bruges or Ghent , and even Leuven , conditions the inclusion of Antwerp in a route in which surely you will also have Brussels as one of the objectives of the trip.

Therefore, to make the decision, it is convenient for you to know what to see in Antwerp , although I tell you that it is worth visiting.

Corner of the central Groenplaats in Antwerp
Corner of the central Groenplaats in Antwerp

For its population, with its 500,000 inhabitants, it is the second city in Belgium , but although it is a large city, I will tell you that the tourist visit is very concentrated in the historic center .

In addition, for its characteristics you can perfectly visit Antwerp in one day , of course, seeing the corners and the most important monuments.

How to get to Antwerp

Antwerp is only 55 kilometers by road from Brussels , and one hour by train from the Belgian capital.

Therefore, it is very easy to include this city in a travel route through Flanders , more taking into account what was said before, that a full day may be enough for your visit.

Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp Central Station

Curiosities history of Antwerp

Antwerp is a city marked historically by its membership in the Spanish Netherlands , which conditions many aspects of its culture,

Among them stands out the pre-eminence of the Catholic religion , which you will be able to verify when you visit its cathedral and its churches.

Its economic development takes place from century XV and of always it has been one of the most important commercial cities of the north of Europe, in good part due to its activity like fluvial port.

In this respect, at present what most strikes you is knowing that Antwerp is considered the world center of the diamond .

This you will see during your walk through the small Jewish Quarter located next to the Central Station where many companies and diamond stores are concentrated.

Shop in the Diamond neighborhood of Antwerp
Shop in the Diamond neighborhood of Antwerp

That is why  Antwerp is now one of the European cities with the largest Jewish population, which will make it very easy to check both in this neighborhood and in its surroundings, which have become the residential area of ​​this community.

Transports in Antwerp

As I said, Antwerp is an easy city to visit, so you may hardly need to use public transport.

Of course, if for example you are staying in a hotel near the aforementioned Central Station , although you can walk to the historic center, you will save time if you use the Metro .

Now, do not expect a suburban like that of big cities like Paris, London or Madrid.

In Antwerp Metro is called to the trams that in the central axis of the city, that is the Meir street, they circulate by an underground tunnel as if they were a meter, although when they move away of the center of the city already they come to the surface.

Meir Avenue in Antwerp
Meir Avenue in Antwerp

As in other Belgian cities, you also have the option of visiting Antwerp by bicycle .

In the underground parking of the Central Station , in Fietshaven , you can rent a bike for the whole day, which will only cost you 13 euros.

What to see and do in Antwerp

In the face of your tourist day in Antwerp , it is easy to assume that you can start it in the same Central Station , a building that is already interesting by itself.

Antwerp Zoo in Belgium
Antwerp Zoo in Belgium

District of the Diamonds in Antwerp

On the left is the aforementioned district of diamonds , with many shops, many security measures, and where you will see that along with the Jewish community , there is a lot of Indian population that also runs this type of business.

From the station you have a large avenue, the aforementioned  Meir , which will lead you directly to the historic center.

When crossing this avenue you will see the great cosmopolitan and commercial atmosphere of the city of Antwerp , with a style very different from other Flemish cities such as Bruges and Ghent.

In this area you will see several shopping areas with numerous brand stores.

Skyscraper Tower Boerentoren in the center of Antwerp
Skyscraper Tower Boerentoren in the center of Antwerp

Royal Palace in Antwerp

You will also pass through the old Royal palace , now known as the palace of the Meir .

It is a renovated building, with a long history behind it, which in its time was owned by Napoleon and King William I of the Netherlands .

Inside, there is the Line chocolate shop , owned by a famous chocolatier from Antwerp, whose production workshop is located in the room that was the kitchen of the palace.

In this commercial avenue it will be easy to distinguish the Boerentoren Tower . which after being built in art deco style after the First World War, became the first skyscraper in Europe .

Rubens House Museum in Antwerp

Before you can see (and visit if you want, entry, 10 euros) the Rubens House Museum .

Commercial street in the center of Antwerp
Commercial street in the center of Antwerp

This is the house that the famous artist  Pedro Pablo Rubens lived with his family during his 25 years of residence in Antwerp.

Currently, in this Flemish city, up to 52 works by Rubens are exhibited, both in the house and in various churches and museums .

Groenplaats in Antwerp

Soon you will reach the historic center of Antwerp, which has two main squares as main axes.

First, the Groenplaats , in whose center you will see a statue of Rubens, and from where, behind a beautiful front of the facades, you can see the towering tower of Antwerp Cathedral .

Gothic Cathedral of Antwerp from the Main Square
Gothic Cathedral of Antwerp from the Main Square

Cathedral of Antwerp

One of the must-sees in this Flemish city, this cathedral is considered to be the largest Gothic church in the Netherlands , and inside you can also see important works by Rubens .

You will already be in the most tourist area of ​​the city.

Town Hall and Gremiales House in Antwerp Main Square

After passing through the charming square where the entrance portico of the cathedral is located, you will arrive at the main square of Antwerp , the true heart of the old town.

There you will see the Renaissance building of the town hall , although undoubtedly the most charming corner is the front of guild houses of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with an almost twin image.

Antwerp City Hall in the Plaza Mayor
Antwerp City Hall in the Plaza Mayor

And in the center of the great Plaza Mayor , the statue dedicated to the Brabo , whose legend says he was the founder of the city of Antwerp.

San Carlos Borromeo Church

Near the Plaza Mayor you have the church of San Carlos Borromeo , a good example of the baroque in the seventeenth century, where you can see numerous paintings and sculptures by Rubens .

Although if you like the baroque, you should move away from the center and go to the neighborhood of the Mariners to see the church of San Pablo.

Built in 1571, in its bright interior you will see sumptuous Baroque altars with more than 200 sculptures and works by Jordaens , Rubens or Van Dyck .

T Steen, Antwerp castle
T Steen, Antwerp castle

T Steen Castle in Antwerp

When you reach the edge of the Scheldt River , you will find a historic monument known as  T Steen ( the Stone ), a 13th century castle that was rebuilt by the Spaniards during their occupation of the Netherlands .

As a curiosity, when you are in this area do not miss the very old and curious escalators that will allow you to see a long subterranean tunnel that leads to the area of ​​the city on the other side of the Scheldt .

I will also tell you that cruise ships depart from this area of ​​the wharf that sail through the port area.

Vlaeykensgang alley in the historic center of Antwerp
Vlaeykensgang alley in the historic center of Antwerp

Vlaeykensgang alley

In the streets around the historic center you also have another corner to see, such as Vlaeykensgang alley , whose image will take you to the atmosphere of the sixteenth century.

Plantin-Moretus Museum

Also worth mentioning is the Plantin-Moretus Museum , a 16th-century mansion where you can see what is considered to be the oldest printing press in the world , more than 400 years old, declared a World Heritage Siteby Unesco .

Underground tunnel under the Scheldt river in Antwerp
Underground tunnel under the Scheldt river in Antwerp

MAS Museum in Antwerp

I can not finish the review of the tourist attractions of Antwerp without mentioning the MAS , a new museum that has become a favorite attraction of tourists and residents of Antwerp.

The certain thing is that in my trip for lack of time I could not visit it, for what remains for a new opportunity.

The MAS , whose main theme is the city of Antwerp and its history, is located in the new area of ​​the port, in a modern building with an original design that combines reddish stone and glass.

Enjoy your visit to Antwerp!