9 Things to do when visiting Antwerp

I love Antwerp. Antwerp has just so much to offer. I always have a list of things I want to do but I’m always running short of time…I guess all the more reason to go back…:)

Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp Central Station
Interior Antwerp Central Station
Interior Antwerp Central Station

1/  Go by train. It is without doubt the most grand way to arrive in Antwerp. Antwerp Central Station or ‘The Railway Cathedral’ is a real architectural treat with its impressive iron and glass vaulted ceiling. Even the interior is lavishly decorated with lion statues, marble,…

St Paul's church
St Paul’s church
Saint Paul's church
Saint Paul’s church
St Paul's church
St Paul’s church

2/ Every tourist goes straight to the Cathedral but it would be a great pity if you missed St Paul’s Church on the Veemarkt ! In 1968 this beautiful church with rich baroque interior caught fire ! Firefighters and locals tried to save as many artworks as possible from the blaze. The stunning interior is adorned with paintings of the a.o. Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and his pupil Anthony van Dyck and not to forget the beautiful sculpted church furniture. What makes the church really unique is the courtyard…a group of life-size statues represent The Calvary with Christ on the cross.

Hendrik Conscienceplein
Hendrik Conscienceplein
Carolus Borromeuschurch
Carolus Borromeuschurch

3/ Don’t forget the idyllic Hendrik Conscienceplein with its Carolus Borromeus church ! The square is dominated by a statue of the Flemish writer, Hendrik Conscience. He is remembered as ‘the man who taught his people how to read’. The square’s distinctive mosaic pattern as well as the imposing baroque edifices contribute to the grandeur of this magnificent square. The Carolus Barromeus church was built for and by Jesuits. ‘The temple of marble’ was considered another world miracle. The interior was entirely covered with marble and ceiling paintings of Peter Paul Rubens. A fire destroyed the ceiling paintings.

Keizerskapel
Keizerskapel
Onze Lieve Vrouw van Toevlucht kapel
Onze Lieve Vrouw van Toevlucht kapel

4/ Surprisingly still unknown to tourists but true hidden gems: the Keizerskapel as well as the chapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Toevlucht.

The Keizerskapel also known as the Sint-Anna chapel is a private chapel which stands out for its artistic heritage dating back to the 17th century. The colour scheme of the stain glassed windows add to the richness of the decor.

The second chapel is one of the few remaining ‘Houses of God’ still serving as a haven of prayer. Especially elderly locals come here to pray and to light candles. The whole atmosphere as well as ‘the wall’ of ex voto’s given in fulfilment of a vow make you quiet.

Vlaeykensgang
Vlaeykensgang

5/ Walk along the charming alley, ‘Vlaeykensgang’. In the 19th century the city had many of such alleys. The poor were housed in it, living in deplorable conditions. The houses were painted white to prevent diseases from breaking out.

Sint-Anna tunnel
Sint-Anna tunnel

6/ Go through the Sint-Anna or pedestrian tunnel! Descend the original wooden escalators from 1933 ! and go under the river De Schelde to the other side of the city, Linkeroever, to take some pictures of this amazing city.

Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten

7/ Go window-shopping –or even better, Shopping!- in the fashion district! Every fashionista has heard of the famous ‘Antwerp Six’… Doesn’t ring any bells? What if I say Dries Van Noten? Thought so,… His boutique is located in the Nationalestraat. For those who are interested: the Schuttershofstraat is the ‘Antwerp Rodeo Drive’. Moreover, if you have a big thing for fashion you should definitely go and see the MoMu Fashion Museum. The museum has an exceptional collection of 25.000 pieces! (We can only dream of having such a huge wardrobe 🙂 )

8/ The house of Rubens ! Go back in time and step into the life of the great artist, Peter Paul Rubens. Walk in his home, painting studio, garden,… and admire the collection of paintings, under which his self-portrait.

9/ Go to Philip’s Biscuits, the most nostalgic biscuits boutique of Antwerp. Buy some delicious ‘Hands of Antwerp’. Curious to know how the city got the hand as a symbol ? Click here to read the full story of the legend.

Check out lifestyletalks on Pinterest for more pictures !

St Paul’s church, Veemarkt 14 – Kiezerskapel, Keizerstraat 21/23, open from 13h00 – Kapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Toevlucht, located near the Schoenmarkt – Vlaeykensgang, Oude Koornmarkt 16 – Sint-Anna tunnel, Sint-Jansvliet – MoMu Fashion Museum, Nationalestraat 28 – The House of Rubens, Wapper 9-11 – Philip’s Biscuits, Korte Gasthuisstraat 11

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