The city of Rubens
Antwerp, a city located on the River Scheldt is, after Rotterdam, the Europe's second largest seaport. But not only because of that the Maritime Museum (Nationaal Scheepvaartmuseum), where we can see the models of ships from different historical periods, was founded here. The museum is located on the river, in the twelfth-century Het Steen fortress.
Antwerp is an important scientific center (two universities are here), but also the birthplace of Rubens. The city devotes pretty much attention to cultivate the memory of the master. You can see his works at the great Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunstem). Apart from the Rubens works, there are also paintings of Hals, Van Dyck, Breughel and other artists.
The city is Belgium’s gem, both literally and metaphorically – it’s the worlds center of ornamental cut diamonds. When you are here, you must visit the Pelikaan Straat. There are jewelers and diamond-cutting shops, as well as expert companies. There’s also no way to skip the huge Diamond Museum (Koningin Astridplein).
Monuments and Antwerp’s pubs
The most precious monuments can be found on the Main Market Square (Grote Markt). Traditional narrow town houses with high roofs jump out immediately, as well as the sixteenth-century town hall (Studhuis) standing in the center. It is considered to be one of the most important monuments of the Renaissance in the whole Netherlands. Antwerp can also boast one of the largest cathedrals in the world – the astonishing Cathedral of our Lady.
The oldest building in the city is the thirteenth-century Steen castle, situated on the bank of the river Scheldt. In the past, it served as a prison and later was transformed to the headquarters of the archaeological museum. Today it is home to the already mentioned Maritime Museum.
The pubs of Antwerp are undoubtedly very curious places. The city has its own brewery - Koninck, and the beer produced there is served in the locals called “bolleke” There are also "ordinary" pubs, although the word "ordinary" doesn’t describe it appropriately. It is not uncommon to see barrels as tables in these places, or the original styling with hundreds of bottles on the walls. The great merit of such pubs is a wide selection of beers – they are served in over 300 kinds, from a traditional hop beer to the light or dark fruit beer.
In some pubs, apart from the beer mug, you can also enjoy a hot meal while listening to the live music, or music played from the CDs.
The city of fashion
In Antwerp we also find districts devoted to fashion, and it’s a fashion with the capital “F”. Ann Demeulemeester’s and Dries van Noten’s boutiques are located here, both figures are undoubtedly very successful designers. Kammenstraat accumulated boutiques of avant-garde designers, and on the Schuttershofstraat you find a lot of haute-couture boutiques.
In the city jewelry and clothes are designed. Anybody, who wants to can visit the artists in their studios and order one-of-a-kind ring, necklace or brooch.
If we enter the Antwerp from Brussels, we get to the Jewish quarter. We will recognize the inhabitants right away - they clearly differ from tourists with their outfit. Most of them are Hasidic Jewish. Visitors willingly explore the local kosher restaurants. Here you can try exquisite cuisine, and one of the highly recommended restaurants is the one run by three Hofiys brothers (Lange Kievistraat 52). Among other things, you can try for example a plate of traditional entrees.
Where can you park your camper?
Those, who travel with their own camper, can choose from several nice campsites located in the area. Very popular among tourists is campsite Baalse Hei *** (Roodhuisstraat 10, 2300 Turnhout). It’s a year-round camping, where you can take your own boat- there’s a lake in a distance of about 0.1 km. Double occupancy costs approximately 25 € per day (the pitch for your camper and the access to electricity is included in the price). There is a washer and dryer, a place for ironing and a kitchen.
The second year-round campsite is Hof van Eeden *** (Kempische Ardennen 8, 2260 Westerlo / Heultje). Here, for double occupancy, you have to pay from 17.50 to 23.50 €, depending on the season. A snack bar with meals to-go located on the campsite is open all year round, there is also a restaurant. Visitors of Hof van Eeden can easily change the gas cylinder here, and there are special facilities introduced for campers – for example hardened pitches.
The offer of the campsite Houtum (Houtum 51, 2460 Kasterlee) is worth considering as well. It’s also open all year round, and offers tourists the opportunity to play mini-golf, boules (so called “Pétanque”) and a table tennis. There’s a small and a large playground for kids, and a sport field for sports enthusiasts. During the summer, tourists can freely use the snack bar, while the restaurant and shop is opened all year round. The cost of accommodation for two people here ranges from 17.80 to 20.70 € per day.
Gifts from Antwerp
Once, some user wrote on a forum: "Antwerp is a paradise for lovers of trinkets and designer clothes." Perhaps, but is it a flaw or advantage? Anyone can come and judge. And while on a trip, everyone will certainly spend fantastic moments here and leave Antwerp with a lot of positive memories.