A WEEKEND IN...: Antwerp, Belgium
Fiona Richards chooses her favourite spots on visiting Antwerp and recommends all to be visited with a good helping of chocolate and cake whenever possible
Named as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2018, Antwerp has so much to offer and discover that you will definitely need a long weekend to see as much as possible. And whilst it has a picturesque and historic city centre with many charming medieval buildings, it also has a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan feel which instantly makes the visitor feel welcome.
The city is the second largest in Belgium, after the capital, Brussels. Lying on the River Scheldt, its port is one of the largest in the world and the second largest in Europe.
Historically, Antwerp started to grow in importance in the 15th century, when foreign trading houses were moved from Bruges to Antwerp because the River Zwin in Bruges was silting up. It also became the sugar capital of Europe, importing raw commodities from Portugal and Spain, which then attracted Italian and German sugar refiners who exported it, mostly to Cologne. Moneylenders and financiers settled here and developed large businesses lending money all over Europe, and at the beginning of the 16th century, the city accounted for a staggering forty percent of the world’s trade. After 1541, however, its trade and wealth declined whilst Amsterdam flourished instead.
Known as home to one of the world’s greatest known painters, Rubens, it is also the diamond capital of the world - two great reasons to visit on their own! Here are my favourite places to explore but there are also many more beautiful theatres, churches, museums and historic buildings to discover. To find out all about visiting Antwerp see: www.visitantwerpen.be/en.