Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium


Antwerp, Belgium.

Why now?

It’s impossible to untangle Antwerp from fashion and art, and
particularly from the lives of two of their protagonists: Peter
Paul Rubens and Dries Van Noten. Whatever the reason you’re
visiting the so-called “diamond capital”, you’ll come across
world-renowned baroque masterpieces as well as the places the
eccentric designer spent his fashion infancy (Antwerp’s Royal
Academy of Fine Arts also counts Martin Margiela among its

The city’s diverse architecture will please everyone from
cobbled-street obsessives to contemporary design lovers. Once
northern Europe’s answer to Italy’s piazzas and palazzos, Antwerp’s
Flemish Renaissance architecture comes to light at its central
square, Grote Markt, while the city’s Cathedral of our Lady easily
competes with Rome‘s
frescoed churches. Here, you’ll find three major works by Rubens:
one above the main altar as well as two triptychs.

Don’t miss

Following extensive travels in
, Rubens designed his own palazzo/studio/home right in the
centre of Antwerp. Now a
, it is remarkably Flemish-looking from the outside but
the main draw is a Roman portico, complete with stone arches and
columns looking out into the garden, as well as an indoor
Pantheon-inspired marble rotunda.

When you’ve ticked off the obvious, don’t miss the Zaha
-designed port house by the colourful harbour or the
Extra City Kunsthal, an open-plan art space dedicated
to connecting art and city dwellers. To see Antwerp’s best
designers in a museum setting, visit MoMu.

Antwerp also has an abundance of shops, including Labels
for pre-loved ready-to-wear items and Graanmarkt 13, where you’ll find everything from
bucket bags to locally designed jewellery. To unwind, make use of
the city’s rich coffee culture – it’s the world’s largest coffee
port – with some our favourite cafés including Buchbar
(which comes with a separate library) and hip hangout Kolonel Koffee.

Who to take with you

A friend who spends their weekend browsing exhibitions.

When to go?

Spring or

Most likely to bump into…

Art history geeks.

Essentials to bring with you

Keep it casual and don’t bring too much as the variety of shops
offers plenty to fill your suitcase.

How to get there

There’s no airport in Antwerp, but you can easily hop on the
Eurostar from London to Brussels,
then it’s 45 minutes on any regional train.

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