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Antwerp
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Antwerp Belgium

Brussels may be Belgium's capital, but Antwerp offers just as much in the way of Belgian heritage and culture. Its centuries-old history as a European port continues to this day, where life centres around the Scheldt River and the diamond trade is still strong.

Antwerp first reached its heyday during the 16th century, when the Renaissance ushered in a new wave of creativity and art. You'll find masterpieces by baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, one of the city's most famous residents, hanging inside the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of Our Lady as well as at Rubenshuis – the artist's former home and workshop. Grote Markt, Antwerp's main square in its medieval centre, offers an atmospheric glimpse of the city's architectural heritage with its Renaissance-style City Hall, Guild Halls and Brabo Fountain.

Modern Antwerp is now a hub for high fashion and nightly entertainment. Fanning out from Antwerpen-Centraal railway station, the streets of Meir and De Keyserlei are famously lined with boutiques selling cutting-edge designs. Meanwhile, the nearby diamond district has been the place to find rough and polished stones since the 15th century.

Sitting down at a local bistro for Flemish food and Belgian beer is a classic Antwerp experience, but there's more to city life than its cuisine. After a lesson in printing presses at the Museum Plantin-Moretus, catch a sports match at Lotto Arena, witness a concert at Sportpaleis Antwerpen or visit the animals in the Antwerp Zoo – one of the oldest in the world.

 

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