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antwerp map eng

Forget highly touristic Brussels, cosmopolitan Bruges and medieval Ghent. The second largest city in Belgium, Antwerp is a city for more "sophisticated" travelers, which you should definitely visit!

A few words about the city

 Antwerp is a city in Belgium and the capital of the province of the same name in Flanders. Its population is estimated at 510,610 inhabitants, while its metropolitan area numbers approximately 1,200,000 people. The city is built on the banks of the river Scheldt and is connected to the North Sea via the western Scheldt estuary. Furthermore, the port of Antwerp is one of the largest in the world, ranked among the top 20 worldwide and 3rd in Europe! According to folklore, depicted on a statue in front of the Town Hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant named Antigoon who lived near the river Scheldt. He demanded rights of passage from the river boatmen and, if refused, cut off the hand and threw it into the river. Finally, the giant was killed by a young hero, Silvio Brambo, who cut off the giant's own arm and threw it into the river. From this fact comes the name of the city (Antwerpen), from the Dutch words hand werpen, which mean "hand" and "throw". So I will try to introduce you to the city through my own eyes and share with you what I think should be seen by someone who visits it for the first time.

Antwerpen Centraal

 The Antwerp Central Station (Antwerpen Centraal) is a real gem for the city and one of Belgium's most important stations. It is the first sight one sees when arriving in the city by train and gets a taste for what comes next. Its nickname is "railway Cathedral", which of course is no coincidence, since it is extremely impressive and strongly resembles a cathedral! The building we see today was designed by Belgian architect Louis Delacenserie and constructed between 1895 and 1905, surprisingly combining newer and older construction methods. It is therefore difficult to place it in a particular school of architecture, while the entrance hall is huge and often hosts art exhibitions. Finally, from 1873 to early 2007, this particular station was only terminal; however on March 23, 2007, a tunnel with two continuous routes was opened under part of the city and under the station!

centraal station

Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal

 The Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal) is the largest Gothic church in Belgium and is one of the tallest buildings in the city. It began to be built in 1352 and was handed over to the public in 1521, but its construction is not considered complete until today! Of course, the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, while the temple became a cathedral in 1559 when it replaced a Roman one! The interior of the church is just as impressive as the exterior, as it is elaborately decorated with works by the famous painter of the Flemish school, Peter Paul Rubens. Perhaps the most important of these works is the central painting of disestablishment! Finally, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp, as well as the city hall, are among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Entrance to the temple costs 12e.


Grote Markt - Groenplaats

 If we were looking for the most central part of the city, this would undoubtedly be the area of the Great Market (Grote Markt). The Grand Square (Groenplaats) is the most central square in the city and is surrounded by some of Antwerp's most recognizable monuments, such as the City Hall (Stadhuis), the guild buildings and the Cathedral. At its center stands the statue of the Roman soldier Silvius Brabo, who killed the giant who lived on the banks of the Scheldt River and, according to legend, beheaded any fisherman who refused to pay him a tax. This particular fountain shows Brabo holding the severed hand of the giant, with legend saying that this is where the city got its name. According to this theory, the name Antwerpen is derived from “(h)ant” (hand) and “werpen” (throw). Finally, apart from the beautiful Flemish architecture of the buildings that surround it on all 4 sides, in the square you will find plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes.

agrote markt3

Het Steen

 The Stone Castle (Het Steen) is located on the East Bank of the river Scheldt and takes its name from the fact that it was one of the first buildings in Antwerp, built with stones at a time when most houses were still built with wood! The first building on this site dates from 645 and was constructed during the Viking raids. But the fortress we see today was erected around 1200-1225 and was called the fortress of Antwerp (Antwerpen Burcht). In 1520, during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the castle was renovated by architects Keldermans and De Waghemakere. For their renovations they used a much lighter type of stone, sandstone instead of limestone. This is the reason for the color difference of today's walls. In 1549 the castle was converted into a prison, a use it would retain until 1823. Today the castle houses a museum about the history of the city! When entering the fortress it is worth stopping for a few minutes and admiring an oversized statue. It depicts a legendary giant named Lange Wapper. According to tradition, it terrorized the local population in the Middle Ages. Entrance to the castle costs 7e.


 The famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens lived and worked from 1616 until his death in 1640 in Antwerp. His house (Rubenshuis) is therefore one of the most famous sights of the city. It is a luxurious residence-mansion, of Italian architecture, built in 1611 as the house and atelier of the famous painter. It was rescued from disrepair in 1937 and has since been restored with care and furnishings from the time of Rubens. Today it operates as a museum space, where apart from the architecture of the house, the impressive garden and its furniture, one can admire an immense collection of works of art. In the building are exhibited paintings of the great painter, among them his famous self-portrait, in which he appears with a hat as well as a large-sized painting, in which Eve looks with desire at Adam's fig leaf. In the museum's collection there are paintings of other Flemish painters. The museum is currently closed for renovation.


Meir Street

 Meir street is Antwerp's main shopping street and the most important shopping area in the country, both due to the number of buyers and the rental prices (1,700 €/square meter)! The name comes from the old Dutch word "Meere" (lake), as the area was a so-called "Wood Lake" (houtmeer), where that wood was intended for use in furniture. This particular street also gave its name to the neighborhood "Meir", which is located between the historical center and the main railway station. Also, of particular interest is the fact that the street has been mostly pedestrianized since 1993 and is said to be the equivalent of 5th Avenue in New York City! Of course, there you find a plethora of shops with clothes, cosmetics, souvenirs and many more. Finally, even if you are not a fan of shopping, it is worth walking on this wonderful pedestrian street, as all the buildings along it have particularly beautiful Flemish architecture!

meir street

Diamond District

 Antwerp has been known as the city of diamonds since 1477. Very close to the railway station is the famous Diamond District, where rough and polished diamonds are traded! At this point the city's rich multicultural heritage is clearly seen, since it is largely dominated by the Jewish and Indian communities, although Lebanese, Russian and Chinese gem traders also work here. The truth is that one cannot visit the trading markets, but there are many shops selling diamond jewelry. The majority of diamond shops are concentrated in a triangle of three streets to the west of Central Station, De Keyserlei, Pelikaanstraat and Vestingstraat. Although we are talking about a central European city, here the negotiation is very widespread. So if you want to buy some diamond jewelry, do not forget to negotiate the price until the end!

diamond district


 The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe after Rotterdam. The truth is, you can't call it beautiful, but it's pretty impressive! Due to its strategic location, it is considered one of the main distribution hubs for the European hinterland! It is located on the banks of the Scheldt River and is itself an attraction for the city of Antwerp. Since 2004 Asian ports such as those in Singapore and Shanghai dropped it from the top positions worldwide, yet it continues to be in the top twenty! To the west of the main port area is the old village of Lilo, where a new visitor centre has been built. Together with an experienced guide you can explore parts of the port that would otherwise be forbidden to visit and learn everything about its history!



 In Antwerp there are many museums and art spaces that deserve your attention. The first thing I recommend to visit is the Museum on the river (Mas Museum). It is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and one of the largest museums in the whole country. It opened in May 2011 and there you will find marine artifacts documenting international trade and shipping, through to the history, art and culture of the Port of Antwerp and art and culture from Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Admission costs 10e.

mas museum

 Equally interesting is the Royal Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA), founded in 1810. It houses collections of paintings, sculptures and drawings created from the 14th to the 20th centuries. Admission costs 20e.


 The Plantin-Moretus Museum, on the other hand, is quite popular in the city. It is essentially a printing museum, focusing on the work of 16th-century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. Admission costs 12e.

plantin moretus museum

 Finally, don't miss a visit to Vleeshuis and the Chocolate Museum (Chocolate Nation). The first is housed in a 20th-century building, which was formerly a guild house. There you will find literally all the sounds of the city. Musical stories, old operas, dozens of musical instruments (even that of the Cathedral) are only a few of what you will see there! The Chocolate Museum is located directly opposite the main train station and is the largest Belgian Chocolate Museum in the world! Among other things, you will admire multimedia exhibits on the history of chocolate making, while there are interactive seminars and tastings. Admission to the first costs 8e, while to the second 19.90e.

chocolate nation

How to go

 At the moment, Thessaloniki is not directly connected by air with Antwerp, while connecting flights are rare and expensive. So the best option to reach the city is to fly to Brussels or Charleroi, via Aegean and Ryanair respectively, and from there to Antwerp by train or bus.

Where to stay

 Certainly when you think of Belgium, Antwerp is not the first city that comes to mind, but it is a popular tourist destination. Compared to Brussels or Bruges, here the prices are more normal and correspond to the quality-price index. So my suggestion is the Hotel National Antwerp, a three-star hotel in the city center, with spacious and fully equipped rooms.

How to move

 Antwerp is a tiny city, with most of its attractions within walking distance of each other. This means that it is a city that is suitable for walking, while equally convenient is the bicycle, which you can rent from the street. However, Antwerp has an excellent tram and bus transport system, covering all the lengths and widths of the city. It is advisable to buy your tram or bus ticket at a pre-sale point (newsagents, supermarkets or vending machines at various stops) or via an app where tickets are cheaper! Finally, taxis are quite expensive and I would only recommend them as a last resort.

What to eat

 There are four things to try when visiting Belgium mussels, potatoes, beer and chocolate. In the city you will find many restaurants and pubs with traditional flavors, but pay attention to the prices before you sit down, because there is a chance that you will be surprised. For local flavors I recommend Morso, for breakfast or brunch Den Boterham, and finally for coffee ToiToiToi Coffee x Culture.

Useful information

belgium info2

In Belgium we travel with a passport or a new type of Police ID, where the details are written in Latin characters.

In Antwerp the languages used are French and Flemish. That's why almost everything is written in both languages, from signs to catalogues in restaurants and cafes. However, many, if not all, speak English, so ask for clarification in English.

The currency of the country is, of course, the euro.

Belgium is an hour behind Greece (GMT +2).

Getting to and from Antwerp airport is simple, since there are continuous train and bus services, which cost about 3e to 5e. The train will drop you off at the main train station in about ten minutes, while the buses serving this route are 51, 52 and 53.

In Antwerp there is no Greek embassy or consulate so if you need anything you should contact the nearest one, which is located in Brussels, at 10 Rue des Petits Carmes, 1000 and its phone is (00322) 5455500 – 01.

In winter temperatures are quite low, usually below zero, so the ideal time to visit is spring.


Recommended tours → Brussels, Bruges, Ghent

brussels lang eng


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Mouzakidis Pantelis



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I am Pantelis or as the title of the blog testifies "O Thessalonikios". If you also have a passion for travel, then you are in the right place. My goal is to be able to see the 237 countries of our planet and my purpose to give you information that I gained from my travels. 

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