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Welcome to Antwerp, a pocket-sized metropolis in the Flemish region of Belgium.
The home of Ethnicraft. The place where it all began. The place we know and love.
Widely known for its diamond industry, there’s many other hidden gems to be discovered within Antwerp.
We asked some of our team to share their favourite spots within this understated design hub. Let us guide you through some of the famous fashion, art, heritage, and architecture that can be discovered here.
Journey through time in
the historical city centre
No matter your entry point into Antwerp, you’ll be welcomed by historical sites and monuments bridging the past with the present.
Arriving to the city by train, you’re immediately met by—what many describe as—one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world. Antwerp Central Station is an architectural triumph, marrying different aesthetics and materials contributing to a majestic atmosphere pervading in every corner.
Lift your eyes as you stroll through the city to discover extraordinary traces left from the past. Grote Markt is one of those places; a square encircled by Renaissance style guildhalls, each with embellished facades, coats of arms and gilded statues on top. The same goes for the Handelsbeurs, the former stock exchange, which has been beautifully restored, boasting an impressive interior that’s open for the public to admire.
Plantin-Moretus Museum © Jeremy Keith
Take a step through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 to enter the enchanting secret alley, Vlaeykensgang, and suddenly, you’ll feel like journeying through time. The Plantin-Moretus Museum, located at Vrijdag Markt (the Friday Market) and just a stone’s throw from the Vlaeykensgang, lets you experience the past, too. The former printing establishment and residence of the Plantin-Moretus family is often described as the Silicon Valley of its era; similar to the internet today, this was a centre for international knowledge distribution.
Antwerp is home to countless museums and charming churches, each inviting you into its unique story. The Museum Mayer van den Bergh displays collections from the Gothic and Renaissance period curated by art dealer and collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh. At the same time, the St. Charles Borromeo’s Church, considered to be a temple of arts, is home to the works by renowned painter, Peter Paul Rubens.
Hungry for more architectural delights, or in need of a moment to recharge, definitely make a stop by the Beguinage. Shielded from the neighbouring residential and campus areas by tall, windowless, brick walls, visitors often have no idea what to expect. But entering through the iron gate, a secluded surprise awaits, reminiscent of a secret garden.
St. Charles Borromeo’s Church © sigridspinnox.com
If you’re in the mood to discover more culinary specialities, DIM Dining, a fusion of modern and traditional Asian and Western-inspired dishes, is an excellent option.
Antwerp is filled with gastronomic experiences that will exceed your wildest dreams, and restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dijk, within the Vlaeykensgang, is no exception. Enjoy a range of authentic and seasonal delights surrounded by the most beautiful interiors of famous antique dealer, Axel Vervoordt.
Naturally, a trip to Belgium, and Antwerp, wouldn’t be complete without a taste of iconic Belgian fries. On any square, market or pedestrian street, you’ll find a fritkot, or friterie, a traditional restaurant or food truck serving fries along with other options like hamburgers and meatballs.
While you’re indulging in the mecca of typical Belgian foods, be sure to make a stop at Pierre Marcolini for the ultimate chocolate experience. Philip’s Biscuits is another excellent choice for sweet specialities, namely the Antwerpse Handjes—a biscuit shaped like a hand to symbolise the city’s legend and origin.
Historical Centre © Sigridspinnox.com
|The Grand Place © Rolf Kranz|
Shop in some of Antwerp’s many stores—if you can choose!
Antwerp doesn’t host just one shopping epicentre. There are several dispersed inside the central city, each with a variety of shops ranging from international chains to boutique, local, stores that you’ll only find on this latitude. Dries van Noten, shop from the world-famous fashion designer with the same name, and Gloves Boon belong to the latter category. Even if you’re not needing a new pair of gloves, a visit to the shop is an experience of its own, with the original glove boxes, cabinets and chairs preserved from past centuries.
Speaking of previous centuries, a walk down the exemplary Kloosterstraat is a destination for any antique enthusiast. If you’re interested in more contemporary items, St. Vincents is another must-see. The abandoned multi-storey printing house now functions as a trendy boutique store and exhibition space. In Copyright Bookshop, you’ll find even more hosted literature on architecture, contemporary art, landscaping, graphic design and much more. You’re bound to find something to enjoy while taking an afternoon break on one of the many cosy sunlit pavement terraces within this lively city’s neighbourhoods.
Dries van Noten © Johannes Vande Voorde
Botanic Garden © Sigridspinnox.com