Saturday, August 17, 2013

Antwerp, Belgium

From Amsterdam, it is about 2.5 hours to Antwerp by train.  Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium with around 512,000 people.  The larger metro area is home to over 1 million residents.  The Dutch name for the city is Antwerpen while the French speakers call in Anvers.

Traders from all over Europe and Asia used to buy and sell goods here in the 16th century when the city was one of the world's biggest financial centers.  It didn't hurt that Antwerp has one of the largest seaports in Europe.

Antwerp is considered the world's leading diamond city as more than 70% of all diamonds are traded here.

In 1920, the city played host to the 7th Olympic Games.

The zoo was founded in 1843.  It is one of the oldest zoos in the world.

The Central Station was completed in 1905.  With its Neo-Baroque façades, glass dome and marble interior, it is one of the most beautiful train stations I've come across.

In 2009, Newsweek ranked it the 4th most beautiful train station in the world.

Boerentoren, the Farmers' Tower, is a 26-storey building built in 1932.  This is the oldest skyscraper in Europe.

The Bourla Theatre is near the historic city center.  It was built in 1834 and was renovated in 1993.  The top is decorated with statues of Apollo and the nine muses.

Museum aan de Stroom is made of Indian red sandstone and located on the harbor.

The guild houses in the city center are very similar to those found in Brussels.

The Stadhuis (city hall) is located in the Grote Markt (old market square) and is the historic city center.

Het Steen, the Stone, is the relic of a former castle.  From the Middle Ages to 1824 it was used as a prison.

The Cathedral of Our Lady was consecrated in 1518.  It took 169 years to complete.  It is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe.  The steeple is 123 meters (403.5 feet) tall.

In one of the many city parks is a huge monument to both WWI and WWII.

The legend of Lange Wapper started in the 16th century.  He likes to tease drunks, cheats while playing with kids and laughs like the devil.  He can make himself so tall that he can move from one to another in a single step.

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