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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A visit to Antwerp

Today my sister and I went to Antwerp, the town where our grandmother was born. As most of the Flemish towns, Antwerp is certainly worth a visit.

When taking the train, as most people do, you arrive in the turn-of-the-century Central Station. It is a work of beautiful architecture, and most tourists gasp full of admiration for the structure. The only thing that might be a bit confusing when you are not used to this station, are the different layers on which the railtracks are situated. There are at least three floors, and the signs to them not always clear.

When leaving the station, you see De Keyserlei, one of the main shopping streets. When you cross the broad Frankrijklei (with traffic lights) you come into the traffic free Meir. More shops (a paradise for fashionista's) and going to the river Schelde.

Coming from the station, you'll find a square on your left side, and this is where you find the home of renaissance painter Peter Paul Rubens. You can visit it, of course (can you believe I've never done this?).

Another place wortth visiting is the house of the printers Plantin and Moretus, well known in their time.

And of course, when coming to the river, you'll see Het Steen, a fortress put there to guard to the city against enemies coming over the water. Next to the fortress you see the statue of Antigoon and Brabo, referring to the legend.

According to this legend, the name of the town (Antwerpen) is derived from hand (hand) and werpen (to throw). It refers to the legend of giant Brabo, who demanded money from every ship that passed Het Steen. Only Antigoon dared to defy him, and when he killed the giant, he took his hand and threw it into the river. Thus hand-werpen.

And let's not forget, just as in every Flemish town, you'll find lots of cafés and restaurants to fill your appetite. We had lunch in a small eating café and we got fine food for not much money. And theatres, an opera house, ... There is something for everyone. Plus a big arena hall where big pop concerts and events can be organised.

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