Antwerp is a city that is the capital of the Antwerp Province in Belgium. The city covers an area of two hundred and four kilometers and has a population of four hundred and sixty-one thousand people. The city has its origins rooted in a Gallo-Roman civilization. During the fourth century, the city was settled by the Franks and this was also the time when the city received its name. The name originated fom a legend that tells of a mythical creature called Antigoon who had its residence in the Scheldt River. As the story goes, Antigoon made everyone who crossed the river pay a toll. Those who didn’t pay got their hands severed and tossed into the river. Eventually, a hero named Brabo crossed the bridge and when Antigoon asked for the toll, Brabo cut off the beast head and flung it in the river. Thus the name Antwerp, which comes from the Dutch word Werpen, which means “to throw”.
Today, Antwerp has the seventeenth largest port in the world. The city is also home to a high concentration of petrochemical industries that include five oil refineries. Tourism is also becoming increasingly important to the city. People come from all over the world to experience its rich culture and historical landmarks. One of the most prominent landmarks in the city is the Antwerp Zoo. This zoo was founded in 1843 and is the oldest working zoo in the world. Antwerp zoo has over five thousand animals taken from over nine hundred species.
The key areas of the zoo include the Vriesland (a penguin exhibit), Sea Lion Theatre, reptile house, aquarium with many species of salt and freshwater fish, a Nocturama, Aviaries, Monkey and Ape House and bird of prey Aviaries. Animals located here include lions, tiger, giraffes, pandas, meerkat, bears, wolves, cougars, aardvark, tamandua and Asian Elephants. All together the animals at this zoo consume forty tons of fish, fifty-two tons of meat, one hundred tons of hay, twenty-three thousand eggs, ten thousand loaves of bread and four thousand litres of milk every year.
Another prominent attraction in Antwerp is the Cathedral of Our Lady. The Cathedral of Our Lady was founded in 1352 and is designed in the Gothic architectural style. This cathedral is over two hundred and sixty feet long and one hundred and forty feet wide, and the spire rises over four hundred feet. Though this church was started during the fourteenth century, it was never fully completed. During the fifteenth century the church was ravished by fire which delayed completion of the church. The church is capable of seating over twenty four hundred people and contains many important works of art. Some of the artworks contained here include The Raising of the Cross, The Descent from the Cross and Assumption of the Virgin Mary, all done by the artist Rubens.
The next church on any visitors tour agenda is Saint James’ Church. This church is located on an area that was an official stop on the way to the burial place of Apostle James. During the fifteenth century, a parish church was constructed on the site. It was decided that it was too small, so plans for a grande cathedral were drawn up. In 1491, construction of the church began. The church is done in a Gothic style, but by the time the construction was finished baroque was in style. That is why the outside of the church is Gothic, while the inside is done in baroque.
A prominent museum in the city of Antwerp is the Plantin-Moretus Museum. This museum, which is dedicated to the famous printers Christoffel Plantijn and Jan Moretus, was founded in the sixteenth century. This museum contains many artifacts which include the world’s oldest surviving printing presses, the sixteenth century Biblia Polyglotta, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Gutenberg Bible and drawings and paintings by the painter Rubens. In 2005, this museum became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is yet another fine museum in Antwerp. This museum was founded in 1810 and features a diverse collection of sculptures, drawings and paintings that span over six hundred years. It is built in the neoclassical style and is adjacent to the the Plaatsnijdersstraat, Leopold de Waalplaats and the Beeldhouwersstraat.
Artists contained in this museum
- Jan van Eyck
- Jean Fouquet
- Roger van der Weyden
- Jacob Jordaens
- Theodoor Rombouts
- Peter Paul Rubens
- James Ensor
- Auguste Rodin
- Henry van de Velde
- Fernand Khnopff
- Jacob Smits
- Gustave Van de Woestijne
- Rik Wouters
The former residence and studi of artist Peter Paul Rubens is now a museum located in Antwerp. In 1609, Rubens married Isabella Brant and began work on the Italian styled villa. The features of the house include his house, a studio, an interior courtyard and a portico. In 1937 the city bought the house and started an ambitious restoration project on it. It was opened in 1946 and named Rubenshuis. Period furniture was later added to the house and dozens of Rubens paintings were installed.
For those longing to see a castle from the Middle Ages then a trip to the Steen might be in order. The Steen is a castle that was built in the twelfth century as a fortification of the alluvial mound. In the sixteenth century,King Charles V had the building added to and extended. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it became a prison. It served in this capacity until the nineteenth century when it became an archeological museum.
Antwerp is a city that is also filled with a ton of restaurants, hotels and cafes.
The city also has numerous historical attractions
- Bourla Theater
- Butcher’s Hall
- Carolus Borromeus Church
- Grote Markt, Groenplaats
- KBC Tower
- Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum
- the Meir
- Vrijdagmarkt and Vlaeykensgang
Hotels in the city
- Hotel Cammerpoorte
- Hilton Antwerp Hotel
- Leopold Hotel Antwerp
- Empire Hotel
- Radisson Blu Park Lane Hotel
- De Keyser Hotel
- Lindner Hotel & City Lounge Antwerpen
- Hotel Keyserlei.