Antwerp attractions

Antwerp attractions


In the center of the Belgian port city of Antwerp, architectural styles from the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque mix with those of the modern era. A few of the buildings erected in the 15th and 16th centuries still characterize the cityscape today. For visitors with a tight time window, it is an advantage that the main sights are close together.

Two important churches

Antwerp's places of worship contain many religious works of art that were created specifically for these churches centuries ago. We particularly like two churches on our city tours.

Cathedral Onze Lieve Vrouwe - Cathedral of Our Lady

The Gothic cathedral with the 123 meter high, filigree tower, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was completed in 1521. In 1533 the church burned down. After the restoration, it was raised to the episcopal church of the Diocese of Antwerp in 1559. During the Calvinist iconoclasms of 1566 and 1581, the church's art treasures were looted. Any new works of art that were added were confiscated by French troops during the occupation period following the French Revolution.

Suikerrui - Tower of the Cathedral

Suikerrui - Tower of the Cathedral


The Catholic cathedral resisted all negative influences. After lengthy restorations, it now shows itself in all its glory. Gigantic columns support the vault. The dominant central nave and six aisles characterize the church. Worthy of admiration are the altar, the neo-Gothic choir, the two organs and the chapels. The Cathedral of Our Lady has many works of art, including four paintings by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - main nave
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - cross vault
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - main altar
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - Choir stalls
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - The Man Carrying the Cross
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - Rubens painting: Descent from the Cross
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - Rubens painting: Assumption of the Virgin Mary
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral - Chapel

Address: Groenplaats

Opening hours: 10:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, 13:00 to 17:00 on Sundays.
Adults pay 12,00 euros entry. Free tours are offered daily.
See also Discover Antwerp on your own.

Sint Jacobskerk

The lavishly furnished Catholic church is the burial place of the painter Peter Paul Rubens. The late Gothic church is 300 meters from the Rubens House. It has 23 marble altars and a large art collection. Mention should be made of painters such as Jordaens, Rubens and Van Balen. This splendor is due to the fact that many rich citizens, merchants and nobles used to live in the parish of Sankt Jakob. They all gave generous donations for the building and furnishing of the church.

Sint Jacobskerk


Sint Jacobskerk


Sint Jacobskerk


Sint Jacobskerk 


The Sint Jacobskerk is the Antwerp starting point for pilgrimages to Spain Santiago de Compostela.

Address: Lange Nieuwstraat 73 - 75
Opening times: 14:00pm to 17:00pm every day
Adults pay 2,00 euros entry.

Secular buildings worth seeing

Antwerp's city center breathes history. Centuries-old buildings bear witness to the dominant position of the city in the 15th and 16th centuries. Remarkable buildings have also been built in recent times. These include the train station, the Museum aan de Strom or the Havenhuis designed by the office of star architect Zaha Hadid. The following stand out from the multitude of buildings.

The Stadhuis – Antwerp's town hall

With its 67 meter wide façade, Antwerp's Stadhuis is considered a fine example of the Brabant Renaissance. The facade with the bell tower is admirable, and the interior has magnificent halls and many works of art. The town hall has been in use since 1565.

Antwerp's Stadhuis

Antwerp's Stadhuis


The building is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building is still used as the town hall; it is therefore not fully accessible to the public. However, parts of the ground floor can be visited.

Address: Grote Markt 1 

Brabo fountain

On the Grote Markt in front of the town hall, the Brabo fountain, unveiled in 1887, commemorates the city legend Silvus Brabo. According to legend, the giant Druon Antigoon, who lived on the river Scheldt, had a malicious habit of demanding tolls from Scheldt boatmen. He cut off the right hand of the boatmen who could not pay and threw it into the river. That called the young hero Silvus Brabo into action. Brabo defeated the giant in battle and in turn cut off his hand. The fountain shows Brabo throwing the giant's hand in the direction of the Scheldt with a sweeping gesture.

Brabo Fountain with the Stadhuis


Brabo Fountain with the Stadhuis


The young hero Silvus Brabo


The young hero Silvus Brabo 


Begijnhof

Today's Begijnhof residential area is based on the original residential community of the Antwerp Beguines. These were believing women who lived in communities similar to religious orders without having taken monastic vows. There are similar facilities in Bruges or Amsterdam. The first Antwerp beguinage was founded in the 13th century. The area consists of small houses, lawns, fruit trees and tranquil paved paths.

Antwerp Begijnhof - outer wall
Antwerp Begijnhof
Antwerp Begijnhof
Antwerp Begijnhof

Rodestraat 39
See also Discover Antwerp on your own.

Fortress Het Steen

Het Steen was the city castle of Antwerp and is the oldest surviving building in the city. Between the 12th and 13th centuries, a city wall and a large castle complex protected Antwerp. Het Steen was one of three gate buildings set into the wall. The castle complex was demolished in the 19th century as part of the straightening of the Scheldt quays.

He Steen


He Steen


Het Steen - before that De Lange Wapper


Het Steen - before that De Lange Wapper 


The cruise terminal borders on Het Steen. Between 1862 and 2008 Het Steen was a museum. Most recently, the eleven rooms in the facility have been home to “The Antwerp Story”. There, visitors can learn all about the history of the city. Guests get to know districts, their museums and well-known Antwerp citizens. Information on events and suggestions for city tours are available in the adjoining Visitor Center.

Address: On Steenplein
Adults pay 7,00 euros entry. 

Central Station

In 2007, the US news magazine Newsweek voted Antwerp's main train station the fourth most beautiful train station in the world. The people of Antwerp call the magnificent building “railway cathedral”.

Central Station

Central Station


The building, inaugurated in 1905, combines various architectural style elements under one roof. Since 2007, the former terminal station has become a through station for high-speed trains.

Central Station - the platform hall


Central Station - the platform hall


Central Station - passageway to the platform hall


Central Station - passageway to the platform hall 


The 43 meter high glass roof of the platform hall catches the eye. The station hall in front of it is also used for events.

Address: Koningin Astridplein

Boerentoren

The 97 meter high Boerentoren (Farmer's Tower) was built in Art Deco style for the 1930 World's Fair. After a change of ownership in 2020, the original commercial building will become a residential complex that includes an exhibition center, art depots, a sculpture garden and other cultural offerings.

High-rise Boerentoren

High-rise Boerentoren


Address: Schoenmarkt 35

Havenhuis Port of Antwerp-Bruges

The "Hafenhaus" is Antwerp's latest architectural gem. The administration building of the merged Antwerp-Zeebrugge port company combines the old with the new. The former fire station is traditional. Architectural firm Zaha Hadid Architects created an architectural diamond above the fire brigade site.

The group of architects around the Iraqi star architect and designer Zaha Hadid († 2016) designed fascinating buildings worldwide. The Havenhuis is one of these.

Havenhuis Port of Antwerp-Bruges

Havenhuis Port of Antwerp-Bruges


Around 500 employees work in the ultra-modern administration building.

Address: Zaha Hadidplein 1

The building can be visited as part of guided tours in groups. Weather permitting, visitors enjoy panoramic views of the harbor and city. The Havenhuis has an excellent view from the Scheldt River.

Worth seeing museums

Antwerp's tourist information lists 24 museums on its website. Crowd pullers are the Museum aan de Stroom, the Museum Plantin-Moretus, the KMSKA Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten and the Rubenshuis.

MAS | Museum aan de Stroom

The MAS is located in Antwerp's hip district "Het Eilandje". The museum, built of red sandstone, brings together the collections of the Ethnographic Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Folklore Museum and parts of the Vleeshuis Museum. The museum, which opened in 2011, inspires its viewers with its futuristic architecture. The MAS is compared to a warehouse in which the museum rooms are stacked on top of each other like boxes. The panoramic glass roof on the tenth floor offers an impressive view of the city, the harbor and the Scheldt. Visitors can reach the panoramic roof using the escalators on the "MAS Boulevard" located on the outside of the building. Here one encounters the group of figures of the “Saluting Admiral Couple” far above.

Museum aan de Stroom
Museum aan de Stroom - Hands on the facade
Museum aan de Stroom - Sculpture Saluting Admiral couple
Museum aan de Stroom - panoramic view

Aluminum hands hang from the red-brown facades of the museum. Hands are on the one hand the symbol of the legend about the hero Brabo and the giant Antigoon; on the other hand, they tell of Antwerpers who have left their handprints all over the world. For a donation of at least 1.000 euros, patrons can get “their” hand on the outer wall of the museum. So far, more than 1.000 hands have decorated the outer wall. There is still enough room for more hands.

Please note: the roof terrace does not require admission.

Address: Hanzestedenplaats 1
Opening hours: daily - except Monday - 10:00am to 17:00 p.m
Entrance fee museum: 10 euros (discounts are granted)
See also Discover Antwerp on your own.

Plantin-Moretus Museum

The exhibition is devoted to the life and work of the Plantin-Moretus family of printers. For more than 300 years, the company was the first industrial printer in Antwerp, Leiden and Paris. The museum is divided into the areas of the printing works and the private rooms.

Plantin-Moretus Museum


Plantin-Moretus Museum


Plantin-Moretus Museum


Plantin-Moretus Museum 


They are richly furnished with tapestries, gold leather, paintings and carvings. The Printing Museum has the oldest printing presses in the world. Since 2005, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the first museum in the world.

Address: Vrijdagmarkt 22
Opening hours: daily - except Monday - 10:00am to 17:00 p.m
Admission price: 12 euros (visitors aged 26 and over; discounts are granted)

KMSKA Royal Museum for Fine Arts Antwerp

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is divided into an old building and a new building. Figurative art is exhibited in the old museum. Art created by world-renowned masters for churches and palaces. – In the new building, art is presented that has detached itself from conventional artistic themes and figuration. Light, form and color are at the center of this artistic creation.

Address: Leopold de Waelplaats 2
The KMSKA was closed for a long time due to renovation and conversion work. It will reopen on September 24, 2022.

The Rubens House

The museum, the "Palazzo on the Scheldt", presents the baroque artist as a painter, architect, diplomat, collector and scholar. Highlights of the exhibition are the Kunstkammer, the inner courtyard with the baroque garden and the large studio with a self-portrait of the artist.

Rubenshuis,


Rubenshuis,


Inner courtyard of the Rubens House


Inner courtyard of the Rubens House 


Address: Wapper 9-11
Opening hours: daily - except Monday - 10:00am to 17:00 p.m
Admission price: 12 euros (visitors aged 26 and over; discounts are granted)

Squares, streets and districts worth seeing

Grote Markt

The town hall and the Brabo fountain are located on the central square in the heart of the old town. Magnificent guild houses tower across from you. The most beautiful are De Oude Waag, the house of the cloth makers, the house of the tanners and the house of the coppersmiths called De Mouwe.

Guild houses on the Grote Markt


Guild houses on the Grote Markt


Grote Markt


Grote Markt 


Groenplaats

The “Green Square”, at the end of the Meir shopping street, is one of the most popular squares in the city. In its place was originally the Groenkerkhof, the city cemetery belonging to the Cathedral of Our Lady. In the middle of the square stands a statue of Peter Paul Rubens. The Groenplaats is home to the Hilton Hotel and many bars and restaurants. The Groenplaats is used for the Antwerp Christmas market in December.

Groenplaats with Antwerp's Cathedral


Groenplaats with Antwerp's Cathedral


Groenplaats - Monument to Peter Paul Rubens


Groenplaats - Monument to Peter Paul Rubens 


gloves market

The main portal of the Cathedral of Our Lady is on the triangular Handschoenmarkt. The historic market square is surrounded by shops, waffle and chocolate shops, pubs and restaurants. In the middle of the square is the statue of Nello & Patrasche, an orphan boy and his dog. Based on an English novel, their story ended tragically. They died in the cathedral from the deprivation they suffered.

Handschoenmarkt with the sculpture Nello & Patrasche


Handschoenmarkt with the sculpture Nello & Patrasche


Sculpture Nello & Patrasche


Sculpture Nello & Patrasche 


Meir

The car-free Meir is Antwerp's busiest and most vibrant shopping street. International fashion chains use palatial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Two significant buildings deserve special mention.

Meir shopping street

Meir shopping street


Palace on the Meir

A wealthy merchant commissioned the Paleis op de Meir in the mid-18th century. Later owners of the magnificent building were Napoleon Bonaparte and the Dutch and Belgian crowns. Today, the "Spiegelzaal" is used for receptions, dinners and company events. The building is also used by The Chocolate Line and interiors specialist Flamant. He runs his business in the former depot.

Palace on the Meir


Palace on the Meir


Paleis op de Meir - inner courtyard


Paleis op de Meir - inner courtyard 


Stadsfeestzaal

The neoclassical building dates from 1908. It was first used as an exhibition, stock exchange and event palace. In December 2000 the building fell victim to a devastating fire. Then it was rebuilt with the old facade. Since 2007 it has served as a posh shopping mall.

City Festival Hall

City Festival Hall


Stadsschouburg Antwerp

The "City Theater" is located on the Theaterplein in the heart of the city. The multi-genre theater offers space for more than 2.000 visitors. The program of the modernist building includes drama, opera, ballet, musicals and grotesque shows. The Theaterplein is used as a weekly market on Saturdays (Zaterdag). There is a lot to see at the market and food stalls.

Stadsschouburg on the Theaterplein


Stadsschouburg on the Theaterplein


Zaterdag market on the Theaterplein


Zaterdag market on the Theaterplein 


The diamond district

Antwerp's diamond district is in the Jewish Quarter, near Centraal Station. Four diamond exchanges operate together with around 1.600 diamond cutters, jewelers and diamond dealers in the well-secured area. Two-hour guided tours are available on weekdays in the Diamond District. At the weekend, the area seems deserted.

Diamond District - Hoveniersstraat and Antwerp's Synagogue

Diamond District - Hoveniersstraat and Antwerp's Synagogue


More sights away from the mainstream

Depending on your interests, the sights recommended above are a must-see when visiting Antwerp. The following destinations are among the less frequented places in the city. They round off your stay in Antwerp.

The Antwerp Whisperer

On the Godefriduskaai, within sight of the Museum aan de Stroom, you can see a group of three larger-than-life sculptures on the facade of a renovated warehouse. The “whisperer” stands on the roof of the house. He whispers messages to a figure seated at the dock. The remaining members of the sculptural group climb up to the Whisperer.

Group of figures Antwerp Whisperers


Group of figures Antwerp Whisperers


Group of figures of Antwerp Whisperers - behind them the MAS


Group of figures of Antwerp Whisperers - behind them the MAS 


Sint-Anna Tunnel

Antwerp stretches left and right of the Scheldt. In 1931 it was decided to build a tunnel to connect both sides of the Scheldt. No sooner said than done: In 1933, the Sint-Anna Tunnel was opened to pedestrians. Cyclists also use the 572 meter long tunnel. The entrance buildings and the historic escalators are still in their original condition. The authentic, wooden escalators transport the users of the tunnel 34 meters below the surface. The tunnel has a diameter of 4,30 meters.

Historical escalator of the Sint-Anna Tunnel

Historical escalator of the Sint-Anna Tunnel


city ​​park

The triangular, 14-hectare Stadspark borders the Jewish Quarter. The green area is a remnant of Fort Herental, a fortress located on the former city wall. Deciduous trees, a pond and a café invite you to relax.

Foothills of the city park


Foothills of the city park


Stadsparkanrainer - Sculpture Jong Meisje met Geit


Stadsparkanrainer - Sculpture Jong Meisje met Geit 


Vlaeykensgang

A little gem is the little-known Vlaeykensgang. It was created more than 400 years ago to connect the Oude Koornmarkt with the Pelgrimstraat. Where antique shops, art galleries and an exclusive restaurant operate today, shoemakers and the poorest of the poor lived in the past. Carillon concerts can be heard in the alley in summer.

Vlaeykensgang

 

Vlaeykensgang


Vlaeykensgang

 

Vlaeykensgang 


Update July 2022

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