Antwerp Weekend Breaks

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Weekend Breaks to Antwerp

Planning a short break to Antwerp? Check out Travel Library's recommended Top 10 Things To Do in Antwerp. It's a perfect companion for weekend city breaks to Antwerp. Once you've been you can add your own tips and suggestions to help other visitors.

Grote Markt

This is the Town Square and still the heart of the old city. The pedestrian market square is surrounded by some of the most amazing Renaissance-style buildings in Belgium. The city hall ibeing the most dominant piece of Renaissance architecture in the Grote Markt, and takes up almost the whole western side of the square. It was built in 1565 in a mixed Flemish and Italian style, complete with statue-topped roofline.

There are many other examples of Renaissance architecture around the square, including the 19th century Bag Bearer statue sculpted by Constantin Meunier in tribute to Antwerp's dock workers.

The centre piece of the Grote Markt is the large baroque Brabo Fountain, which contains the 1887 statue that was sculptured by Jef Lambeaux, depicting the legend of how Antwerp got its name. The legend states that there was a giant who lived in the Scheldt river and demanded a toll from shipmasters that used the river, if they didn't pay up, the giant cut off their hands. A Roman warrior, Silvius Brabo, killed the giant and cut off his hand, throwing it in the river.

In summer the Grote Markt is one of the most popular places in Antwerp, the locals like to sit at one of the many cafes or bars and watch as the people go by.

Cathedral of Our Lady

ocated by the Handschoenmarkt, near the Grote Markt. This towering edifice is the biggest church in the Low Countries, and is a masterpiece of Brbant Gothic architecture. Construction of the church was begun in 1352 and completed by 1520. The cathedral has 7 aisles, 125 pillars and the tallest spire in the Low Countries, reaching 123m.

The cathedral houses 4 Rubens masterpieces, The Raising of the Cross (1609-10); The Descent From the Cross (1611-14); The Resurrection (1612); and the Assumption of the Virgin (1626). Other notableworks of art include an excellent Madonna and Child (1350) in Carrrara marble, scuplted by the anonymous Master of the Maasland marble Madonnas.

Admission to the cathedral is $2.45 and children under 13 are free.

Antwerp Zoo

Koningin Astridplein 26, a little east of Centraal Station. This excellent 25 acre zoo is a great place to take the children for a fun day out. The zoo has a large collection of animals from around the world, who roam around in areas designed to closely simulate their natural habitat. There is an aquarium; a winter garden; an Egyptian temple that houses elephants; an anthropoid house; a museum of natural history; deer parks; a Kongo peacock habitat; and planetarium. The zoo has so much on offer you won't know where to start exploring all the different exhibitions.

Admission: $17.30 for adults, $11 for seniors and children 3 - 11, and children under 3 are free.

Steen

This castle is located at the entrance to the city centre, on edge of the river Scheldt. The castle is called Steen (Dutch for stone) because it one of the first buildings in Antwerp built from stone. It was built in the 13th century and has been renovated many times since. In 1520 Charles V ordered the cast to be renovated by the architects Keldermans and De Waghemakere, and the chapel that forms a loggia above the entrance was built.

From 1549 to 1862 the Steen was used as aprison and from 1862 it was used as the Archeological Museum. From 1889 - 1890 it was renovated yet again and a Neo-gothic wing was added to the castle. The National Navigation Museum has been housed here since 1952.

Next to the castle you'll find the large storage halls of the 19th century harbour. This is where you'll find a number of boats and vessels that belong to the Maritime Museum.

The Diamond Quarter

Located near the Centraal Station. Antwerp is the diamond centre of the world, with 85% of the world's rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds being traded here every year. Antwerp's diamond cutters are world famous for their skill, there are more than 12,000 expert cutters and polishers at work in the Diamond Quarter, at 380 workshops, which serve 1,500 firms and 3,500 brokers and merchants.

The Diamond Quarter is a great place to stroll along and browsing through the beautiful diamonds and jewellery on display, as well as admiring the amazing craft of the diamond cutters at work. If you have some extra cash in your pocket you can buy some of the most stunning diamonds.

Antwerp's Port

Antwerp has a lot to thank the Scheldt river, thanks to this waterway Antwerp has become the 2nd largest harbor in Europe and the 4th largest in the world. The city's excellent location just above where the river meets the tidal Scheldt Estuary made it an important Gallo-Roman port in the 2nd century B.C. Before the 19th century the port stood at the entrance to the city, it was enlarged and the artificial Napoleon Dock was added. The harbour is now located further north of the city, between Antwerp and the Holland border.

The dock is a sight worth a visit, even if it's just for it's size. The whole dock complex covers 65 square km and each year 16,000 ships visit, transporting 100 million metric tons of cargo. There are guided tours on offer and they show you everything there is to know about this man made wonder.

MoMu

Nationalestraat 28. The MoMu is a museum dedicated to fashion; clothing; costume; and textiles. The collection housed in the MoMu includes clothing; lace; embroidery; fabrics; and tools for textile processing that dates back to the 16th century. This is accompanied by collection pieces by contemporary Belgian fashion designers. There are a wide range of exhibitions and interactive workshops, including publications; a scientific library; public reading room; lectures; conferences; workshops; items and projects in the MoMu Gallery; and film projections in the MoMu Cinema.

The MoMu is a great place to visit when in Antwerp, the museum is a lively meeting-place and a well equipped study centre for anyone interested in clothing; fashion and textiles; their social and cultural backgrounds; techniques; and design.

For more information go to the MoMu official website: www.momu.be/

Astrid Park Plaza Hotel

Koningin Astridplein 7, near the Centraal Station and Antwerp Zoo. The Astrid Park Plaza Hotel is one of the best hotels in Antwerp, with its Victorian theme that creates a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. The hotel has a wide range of facilities, including an indoor pool; a solarium and sauna; a gymnasium; the Square, which has a restaurant, brasserie and terrace; and the new Aquatopia Oceanarium, which has aquariums with a variety of water creatures and a lot of interactive animations.

This hotel is the place to go and stay in comfort and style, with a range of facilities in each room, including air conditioning; television; satellite television; radio; and many more.

City Park

The park is located in the Jewish neighbourhood, close to Centraal Station. This is the largest park in the city centre and covers 35 acres. It dates back to 1869, when the Spanish fort's triangular domain was converted into a park by the Antwerp architect E. Van Cuyck. The park contains a playground; a large WWI monument; a number of statues; and a WWII bunker. There is also a wide variety of greenery, including yew trees; American linden and cypresses; and a Japanese walnut tree.

The city park is very popular with joggers; walkers; mothers with children; rollerbladers; and people who want to feed the ducks. This is a great place to kick back and relax, taking a break from all the sightseeing in the city.

La Perouse

Located at Steenplein. This floating restaurant is one of the most popular in Antwerp, and is moored at the foot of the Suikkerui. This is the best place to go for some outstanding French cuisine, with a local twist.

The most popular dishes are the waterzooi de poussin; the gegrilde zeeduivel met saffran; and the jonge prei en geplette aardappel met wijngaardslakken. Due to it's popularity reservations are required.

The restaurant is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from noon till midnight. The prices range from $29 - $49 for main meals, and $59 - $69 for set menus.

This restaurant is well worth the time and money for an unforgettable dining experience.

User Suggestions

Antwerp Ghostwalk - Tourist Attraction

Guided evening tour in the old town lets you discover the dark history of Antwerp. Legends and mysteries are revived in a thrilling tour. (www.ghostwalk.be)

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