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Antwerp is the largest city in the Flanders region, set in the north-east of Belgium. A city rich in history with a modern vibe, it’s renowned for being one of the world’s principal trading centres for diamonds.
There are many reasons to fly to Antwerp. Read our guide to the city and feel the lure of this fascinating destination...
Flights to Antwerp take a little over an hour from the UK, making it easily accessible for a city break. The city has excellent public transport services, with plentiful buses and both over and underground trams. Cyclists are well catered for with dedicated cycle lanes and numerous hire points, while horse-drawn carriage rides are a popular way of touring the sights. The principal tourist areas are centred around the Boulevards area of the city, which is easily accessed on foot.
There are some fine examples of religious architecture in Antwerp and visitors are advised to seek out the St Charles Borromeus Church, which has a number of artistic details designed by the master artist Rubens. Also worth seeing is the magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady, which is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and also houses a series of paintings by Rubens. The house where Rubens and his family lived for 25 years is nearby and offers visitors a fascinating insight into the life and works of this influential Baroque artist.
There are a number of excellent museums within the city, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, which houses a fascinating selection from traditional painters such as Van Dyck through to modern-day artists such as James Ensor. The Plantin-Moretus Museum offers a fascinating insight into the tradition of printing, displaying artefacts that include the oldest printing press in existence, dating to 1600. The Fashion Museum, also known as Momu, is a celebration of fashion through the ages with more than 25,000 exhibits stylishly and creatively displayed.
Grote Market Square is the historic town centre square surrounded by old guild houses with architecture typical of the region. The city of Antwerp boasts a number of architectural gems that are worth seeking out. Vlaeykensgang is a hidden street dating to medieval times and accessed through doors in the surrounding streets. At one time home to the poorest families, the area is now a select enclave of restaurants and quiet benches to escape from the bustle of city life.
Also worth a visit is the fascinating street of Cogels Osylei, where wealthy merchants competed with each other to build the most elaborate houses, including those in Art Nouveau and Renaissance styles. Often quoted as being one of the most beautiful streets in Antwerp, visitors are amazed by the range of styles on view here.
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