The second biggest city in Belgium, Antwerp is located about 50km north of Brussels on the River Schelde, roughly 88km inland from the North Sea. Since the city lies within the Flemish part of Belgium, it is known unofficially as the capital of Flanders. This historical aspect of the local identity is taken quite seriously by the people of Antwerp.Antwerp is a very old city, dating from the Gallo-Roman era.
The name most likely derives from the Dutch "aan de werpe", meaning "at the throw", because of its location at the point where the river 'throws', or deposits sand.Because of its important location as a port city, Antwerp has an illustrious history as a centre of tradimg from all over the world. Trade brought a lot of distinction and wealth to the city. This is most evident in the fine churches and museums that can be seen throughout the downtown area. Today it is the world capital of the diamond trade ? with an estimated 70% of the world's diamonds having been traded through the city.Some attractions for the visitor include 'Rubenshuis', the house of the famous painter, Rubens, which contains a museum of his life and work.
The Plantin Moretus Museum, which is the home of Christoffel Plantin, the 16th century printer and bookbinder. Antwerp Zoo, is one of the oldest in the world, with beautiful architecture from the 19th century and home to over 4,000 animals. The Fine Arts Museum, known locally as Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, has a great collection of paintings dating from the 15th century up to the present day. The museum is home to such masters as Rubens, Van Eyck, Van Dyke, Van Brueghels and Jordaens to name but a few.
There are also a number of scenic boat trips that can be taken in the city, particularly around the old port of Antwerp..Ronan Menton is the webmaster for a number of travel related websites and has been for some time in Ireland, associated with search engine optimisation in the Irish travel industry. He spends two months a year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and now sees it as his second home.
Among the many sites he is currently working on are the following: hotels in Brugge and hotels in Antwerp.
By: Ronan Menton