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Worldvisitguide > Antwerp / Antwerpen
Antwerp / Antwerpen
State : Flandres
Country : Belgium
Population : .462.000 inhab.
Area : .205 Km²
The city and municipality of Antwerp is a centre of commerce in Belgium and the capital of Antwerp province, in Flanders, one of Belgium's three regions. Antwerp's total population is ca. 461,496 (January 2006) and its total area is 204.51 km² with a population density of 2,257 inhabitants per km². The agglomeration has a population of about 800,000.

Antwerp has long been an important city in the nations of the Benelux both economically and culturally. It is on the right bank of the river Scheldt which is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde. Antwerp's port, which is one of the world's largest, has a high level of cargo shipping and oil refineries traffic, and in Europe, only Rotterdam's port is larger. Families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have traditionally controlled Antwerp's global centre of the diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indian and Armenian traders become increasingly important.


Origin of name

According to folklore, and as celebrated by the statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend involving a mythical giant called Antigoon that lived near the river Scheldt, exacting a toll from those crossing the river. On refusal, the giant severed one of their hands and threw them into the Scheldt. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's hand and threw it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen from Dutch hand werpen (hand-throwing).

To support this folkloric derivation, it is pointed out that hand-cutting was practised in Europe, when the right hand of a man who died without heir was cut off and sent to the feudal lord as proof of main-morte. However, Motley argues that Antwerp's name derives from an 't werf (on the wharf), since the form Andhunerbo existed in the 6th century on the separation of Austrasia and Neustria (Encyclopædia Britannica 1911).


The historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus civilization. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952-61 (ref. Princeton), pottery sherds and fragments of glass from mid-second century to the end of the third century.

In the fourth century Antwerp was mentioned in Germania Secunda. The Merovingian Antwerp, now fortified, was evangelized by Saint Amand in the seventh century. At the end of the tenth century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate, a border province facing the County of Flanders. In the eleventh century Godfrey of Bouillon was for some years best known as marquis of Antwerp.

In the twelfth century Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the earl of Cambridge, was born there in 1338.

16th century

After the closing of the Zwyn and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, became of importance. At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the English nation is specifically mentioned in 1510.

Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the center of the entire international economy—something Bruges had never been even at its height." (Braudel 1985 p. 143.) Antwerp's "Golden Age" is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". Over the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second largest European city north of the Alps by 1560. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Guicciardini, the Venetian envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepper and cinnamon would unload their cargo.

Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very international, with merchants and traders from Venice, Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large orthodox Jewish community. Antwerp was not a "free" city though, since it had been reabsorbed into the duchy of Brabant in 1406 and was controlled from Brussels.

Antwerp experienced three booms during its century, the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, in 1559, based on the textiles industry. The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers.

The religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Netherlands. The regent Margaret, duchess of Parma was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alva at the head of an army the following summer.

When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1572, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao was not possible. On November 4, 1576, the Spanish soldiers plundered the city. During the Spanish Fury 6000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over two millions sterling of damage was done.

Antwerp became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585 Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza captured it after a long siege and sent its Protestant citizens into exile. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa and Amsterdam became the new trading centre.

17th-19th centuries

The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the treaty of Munster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldt should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities.

This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the kingdom of the Netherlands (1815 to 1830). Antwerp had reached the lowest point of its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned two millions for the construction of two docks and a mole.

In 1830 the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time this officer subjected the town to a periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by a French army. During this attack the town was further injured. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender.

20th century

Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903.

During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. It was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westward.

Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics.

During World War II the city was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and was liberated when the British 11th Armoured Division entered the city on September 4, 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. The city was hit by more V-2 rockets than any other target during the entire war, but the attack did not succeed in destroying the port since many of the missiles fell upon other parts of the city. Also many V-1 and some V-2 missiles battered the city. As a result, the city itself was severely damaged and rebuilt after the war in a modern style.

After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European center of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.

Orthodox Jewish population

After the Holocaust, Antwerp once again became a major center for Orthodox Jews. At present, about 20,000 Haredi Jews, mostly Hassidic, live in Antwerp. They have an extensive network of synagogues, shops, schools and organizations, within the Machsike Hadas community. Significant Hassidic movements in Antwerp include Pshevorsk, based in Antwerp, as well as branches of Satmar, Belz, Bobov, Ger, Skver, Klausenburg, Lubavitch and several others. Many of these movements, especially Pshevorsk and Satmar, are virulently anti-Zionist and known as some of the most extreme Orthodox movements in existence. Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, who died in 2003, was arguably one of the better known personalities to have been based in Antwerp, though attempts to have a street named after him were not successful.

Missions to seafarers

A number of Christian missions to seafarers are based in Antwerp, notably on the Italiëlei. These include the British & International Sailors' Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, the Norwegian Sjømannskirken and the Apostleship of the Sea. They provide cafeterias, cultural and social activities as well as religious services.

Sister cities

The following places are sister cities to Antwerp :

• Mulhouse, France, 1954
• Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 1958
• Shanghai, China, 1984
• Haifa, Israel, 1995
• Cape Town, South Africa, 1996
• Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 1997
• Ludwigshafen, Germany, 1998

Within the context of development cooperation, Antwerp is also linked to :

• Paramaribo, Suriname
• Durban, South Africa

Born in Antwerp

• Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III of England (1338-1368)
• Frans Floris, painter (1520-1570)
• Abraham Ortelius, cartographer and geographer (1527-1598)
• Gillis van Coninxloo, painter of forest landscapes (1544-1607)
• Bartholomeus Spranger, painter, draughtsman, and etcher (1546-1611)
• Paul and Mattheus Brill, landscape painters (1554-1626, 1550-1583, resp.)
• Abraham Janssens, painter (c. 1570-1632)
• Rodrigo Calderón, Count of Oliva, Spanish favourite and adventurer (d. 1621)
• Franz Snyders, still life and animal painter (1579-1657)
• Frans Hals, painter (1580-1666)
• Caspar de Crayer, painter (1582-1669)
• David Teniers the Elder, painter (1582-1649)
• Jacob Jordaens, painter (1593-1678)
• Anthony van Dyck, painter (1599-1641)
• David Teniers the Younger, painter (1610-1690)
• Jan Fyt, animal painter (1611-1661)
• Nicolaes Maes, Baroque painter (1634-1693)
• Gerard Edelinck, copper-plate engraver (1649-1707)
• John Michael Rysbrack, sculptor (1694-1770)
• Hendrik Conscience, writer and author of De Leeuw van Vlaanderen ("The Lion of Flanders") (1812-1883)
• Georges Eekhoud, novelist (1854-1927)
• Hippolyte Delehaye, Jesuit Priest and hagiographic scholar (1859-1941)
• Willem Elsschot, writer and poet (1882-1960)
• Constant Permeke, expressionist painter (1886-1952)
• Paul van Ostaijen, poet and writer (1896-1928)
• Albert Lilar, Minister of Justice (1900-1976)
• Evi Goffin, vocalist (1981- )
• Jessica Van Der Steen, Model (1984 -)

Lived in Antwerp

• Quentin Matsys, Renaissance painter, founder of the Antwerp school (1466-1530)
• Jan Mabuse, painter (c. 1478-1532)
• Joachim Patinir, landscape and religious painter (c. 1480-1524)
• John Rogers, minister of religion, Bible translator and commentator, and martyr (c. 1500-1555)
• Joos van Cleve, painter (c. 1500-1540/41)
• Damião de Góis, Portuguese humanist philosopher (1502-1574)
• Sir Thomas Gresham, English merchant and financier (c. 1519-1579)
• Sir Anthony More, portrait painter (1520- c. 1577)
• Christoffel Plantijn, humanist, book printer and publisher (c. 1520-1589)
• Pieter Brueghel the Elder, painter and printmaker (1525-1569)
• Philip van Marnix, writer and statesman (1538-1598)
• Simon Stevin, mathematician and engineer (c. 1548/49-1620)
• John Bull, Welsh composer, musician, and organ builder (c. 1562-1628)
• Jan Brueghel the Elder, also known as “Velvet” Brueghel, painter (1568-1625)
• Pieter Paul Rubens, painter (1577-1640)
• William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, English soldier, politician, and writer (c. 1592-1676)
• Adriaen Brouwer, painter (1605-1638)
• Jan Davidszoon de Heem, painter (1606-1684)
• Wenceslas Hollar, Bohemian etcher (1607-1677)
• Jan Lievens, painter (1607-1674)
• Jan Frans Willems, writer (1793-1846)
• Henri Alexis Brialmont, military engineer (1821-1903)
• Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, painter (1836-1912)
• Vincent van Gogh, impressionist painter, lived in Antwerp for about four months (1853-1890)
• Camille Huysmans, Socialist politician and former Prime Minister of Belgium (1871-1968)
• Gerard Walschap, writer (1898-1989)
• Albert Lilar, Minister of Justice (1900-1976)
• Suzanne Lilar, essayist, novelist, and playwright (1901-1992)
• Jean Genet, French writer and political activist : lived in Antwerp for short period in 1930s (1909-1986)
• Chaim Kreiswirth, Hasidic Jewish leader of the Pshevorsk movement based in Antwerp (1918-2001).


Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, nothing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel defended by General Chassé in 1832, except for the Steen, which has been restored. Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications.

After the establishment of Belgian independence, Antwerp was defended by the citadel and an enceinte around the city. In 1859, seventeen of the twenty-two fortresses constructed under Wellington's supervision in 1815-1818 were dismantled and the old citadel and enceinte were removed. A new enceinte 8 miles long was constructed, and the villages of Berchem and Borgerhout, now parishes of Antwerp, were absorbed within the city.

This enceinte is protected by a broad wet ditch, and in the caponiers are the magazines and store chambers of the fortress. The enceinte has nineteen openings or gateways, but of these seven are not used by the public. As soon as the enceinte was finished eight detached forts from 2 to 2-½ miles from the enceinte were constructed. They begin on the north near Wijnegem and the zone of inundation, and terminate on the south at Hoboken. In 1870 Fort Merksem and the redoubts of Berendrecht and Oorderen were built for the defence of the area to be inundated north of Antwerp.

In the 1870s, the fortifications of Antwerp were deemed to be out of date, given the increased range and power of artillery and explosives. Antwerp was transformed into a fortified position by constructing an outer line of forts and batteries 6 to 9 miles from the enceinte.


Antwerp had an artistic reputation in the 17th century, based on its school of painting, which included Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, the two Teniers and many others. Informally, most Antverpians (in Dutch Antwerpenaren, people from Antwerp) daily speak Antverpian, a dialect by Dutch-speakers easily distincted from other Brabantic dialects by its typical pronunciation -- close to the vowel in 'bore' - of one of its 'a'-sounds while other 'a's are overly sharp. The Echt Antwaarps Teater ('Real Antverpian Theatre') brings the dialect on stage.


Antwerp is an upcoming fashion city and has delivered some famous designers like the Antwerp Six.

Buildings and facilities

In the 16th century Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens ("Antwerpia nummis"); the houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic League on the northern quays in 1891. The city also suffered considerable war damage by V-bombs, and in recent years other noteworthy buildings were demolished for new developments.

• The Antwerp Zoo was founded in 1843, and home to more than 4,000 animals

• Central Station is a railway station designed by Louis Delacenserie that was completed in 1905. It has two monumental neo-baroque facades, a large metal and glass dome (60m/197ft) and a gilt and marble interior

• Cathedral of Our Lady. This church was begun in the 14th century and finished in 1518. The church has three works by Rubens, viz. "The Descent from the Cross", "The Elevation of the Cross" and "The Assumption"

• The church, named for St James, is more ornate than the cathedral. It contains the tomb of Rubens

• The church of St Paul, has a beautiful baroque interior. It is a few hundred yards north of the Grote Markt

• The Plantin-Moretus Museum preserves the house of the printer Christoffel Plantijn and his successor Jan Moretus

• The Boerentoren (Farmers' Tower) or KBC Tower, a 26-storey building built in 1932, is the oldest skyscraper in Europe[1]

• The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Royal Museum for Fine Arts) close to the southern quays has a collection of old masters (Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian) and the leading Dutch masters

• The law courts, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, Arup and VK Studio, and opened by King Albert in April 2006. This building is the antithesis of the heavy, dark court building designed by Joseph Poelaert that dominates the skyline of Brussels. The courtrooms sit on top of six fingers that radiate from an airy central hall, and are surmounted by spires which provide north light and resemble oast houses or the sails of barges on the nearby River Scheldt. It is built on the site of the old Zuid (South) station, at the end of a magnificent 1.5 km perspective at the southern end of Amerikalei. The road neatly disappears into an underpass under oval Bolivarplaats to join the motorway ring. This leaves peaceful surface access by foot, bicycle or tram (routes no. 12 and in 2007 no. 8). The building's highest 'sail' is 51 m high, has a floor area of 77,000 m²,and cost €130m.


In 1863, Antwerp was opened again to international trade by the purchase of the Dutch right to levy tolls. Eight principal basins or docks already existed in 1908.

With the completion of the new maritime lock, ships drawing 30 feet of water would be able to enter these new docks and also the Lefebvre and America docks. The quays flanking the Scheldt are 3-½ miles in length, constructed of granite.

The exchange or Bourse, one of the early institutions in Europe with that title, was built in 1872.


Due to its importance as one of Europe's biggest ports and its central location in Europe and within Belgium the city has an impressive infrastructure and is easily reached from all directions by car and train.


Highways lead to Brussels, Hasselt, Liège, Breda (Netherlands), Ghent and Bruges. They are led around the city by the Ring. Both banks of the Scheldt are connected to each other by several tunnels, the oldest of which is the Waasland tunnel (1934). On the Ring the Kennedy tunnel connects the left with the right bank and in the North between the docks there is the Liefkenshoek tunnel. Currently a fourth car tunnel is being planned on the northern part of the Ring which is to be completed in 2012.


Antwerp has two main stations: Central and Berchem. Central Station (1905) is a monument in itself. As Central Station is the end of a spur, many through trains stop at Berchem Station only. From Berchem Station international trains go to Amsterdam, Paris and Lille, national trains go directly to Ghent, Ostend, Brussels, Charleroi, Hasselt, Liège and Turnhout. A through underground connection under Central Station to the North is now being completed and will allow international high-speed trains to call at Central Station without reversing.

City transportation

The city has a web of tram and bus lines operated by De Lijn and providing access to the city centre, suburbs and the Left Bank. The tram network has 11 lines, of which the underground section is called the "premetro" and includes a tunnel under the river.


Antwerp International Airport is located in the district of Deurne. VLM Airlines flies to London (City Airport) and Manchester in England. VLM is the only airline with scheduled air services to and from Antwerp International Airport. The airport is connected by bus to the city center.

(cf : wikipedia)

Related to this zone   
Sections (2) | Items (66) | People (110)

Art Institute of Chicago
David receiving Water from the Three Worthies
Thème biblique
from 1510 to 1520
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
Thème biblique
from 1510 to 1520

Lord Cavendish (1592-1676) with his wife Margaret (1623-1673) in the garden of Rubens in Antwerpen
Gonzales Coques
near 1650

J. Paul Getty Museum
The Meeting of King Ferdinand of Hungary and Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain at Nördlingen
Thème historique
Peter Paul Rubens

Louvre Museum
Paysage des environs d'Anvers
David Teniers
Intérieur d'église inspirée par la cathédrale d'Anvers
Architecture intérieure
Hendrick van Steenwyk
approx. from 1600 to 1640
Animaux et ustensiles
Nature morte
Pieter Boel
approx. from 1660 to 1665
Abraham et Melchisédech
Thème biblique
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1620
Elévation de la Croix
Thème religieux
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1620
La Descente de Croix
Thème religieux
Peter Paul Rubens
Le Sacrifice d'Abraham
Thème biblique
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1620
Vue d'Anvers
approx. from 1600 to 1650
Le Sacrifice d'Abraham
Thème biblique
Monogrammiste de Brunswick
approx. from 1500 to 1550
Loth et ses filles
Thème biblique
near 1517
La Vierge, l'Enfant Jésus et sainte Anne avec saint Augustin et un ecclésiastique en prière
Thème religieux
Maître de 1518
approx. from 1500 to 1530
Le Christ couronné d'épines et la Vierge de douleur
Thème religieux
Maître de la Madeleine Mansi
approx. from 1520 to 1525
Sainte Catherine et sainte Marguerite
Thème religieux
near 1525
Sainte madeleine lisant
Thème religieux
Maître des demi-figures
approx. from 1525 to 1550
La Vierge, l'Enfant Jésus et les trois repentants
Thème religieux
Anthony - Anthonius van Dyck
approx. from 1627 to 1630
Les Amours de Renaud et Armide
Thème littéraire
Anthony - Anthonius van Dyck
approx. from 1629 to 1632
Les Oeuvres de Miséricorde
Scène extérieure
Simon de Vos
approx. from 1630 to 1635
Un dessert
Nature morte
Jan Davidsz de Heem
Vénus demande à Vulcain de forger des armes pour son fils Enée
Thème mythologique
Anthony - Anthonius van Dyck
approx. from 1630 to 1632
Hélène Fourment (1614-1673), au carrosse
Portrait de groupe
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1640
Paysage à l'abreuvoir
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1638
La Vierge rendant visite à Elisabeth
Thème religieux
Jan Lievens
approx. from 1638 to 1640
Vue intérieure d'église, inspirée par la cathédrale d'Anvers
Architecture intérieure
Peeter Neefs
Gobelet à décor a filigrane
approx. from 1600 to 1650
Nature morte au citron pelé
Nature morte
Jan Davidsz de Heem
approx. from 1650 to 1659

Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Dead Christ in the Tomb with Two Angels
Thème religieux
Abraham Janssen van Nuyssen
near 1610
Joris Weijers
from 1522 to 1523
Holy woman
near 1480
Mourning woman
near 1480
A Sermon on Charity
Thème religieux
approx. from 1520 to 1525
The Last Supper
approx. from 1500 to 1525
Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Thème religieux
Peter Paul Rubens
Adoration of the Shepherds
Thème religieux
Jacob Jordaens
approx. from 1615 to 1616
The Holy Family with Saint Elisabeth, Saint John and a Dove
Thème religieux
Peter Paul Rubens
The Smokers
Scène intérieure
Adriaen Brouwer
near 1636
Virgin and Child
Thème religieux
Anthony - Anthonius van Dyck
near 1620

National Gallery
Portrait of Ludovicus Nonnius (1553 - 1645)
Peter Paul Rubens
near 1627
Portrait of Susanna Lunden (?)
Peter Paul Rubens
approx. from 1622 to 1625
Samson and Delilah
Thème biblique
Peter Paul Rubens
approx. from 1609 to 1610
The Adoration of the Kings
Thème religieux
Peter Paul Rubens
from 1610 to 1612
A Grotesque Old Woman
Quentin Metsys
approx. from 1525 to 1530
The Crucifixion
Thème religieux
Jan Metsys
near 1515
The Virgin and Child with Saints Barbara and Catherine
Thème religieux
Quentin Metsys
from 1515 to 1525

Old Pinakothek of Munich
Le peintre Jan de Wael et sa femme Gertrude de Jode
Portrait de groupe
Anthony - Anthonius van Dyck
approx. from 1627 to 1632

Orsay Museum
Port d'Anvers
Louis Eugène

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Still Life with Flowers in a Vase
Nature morte
Jan Davidsz de Heem
approx. from 1660 to 1670

Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium
Le mois d'Avril
Peeter Snijers
Intérieur de la cathédrale d'Anvers, le jour
Scène intérieure
Frans Francken III et Peeter Neefs
Intérieur de la cathédrale d'Anvers, le soir
Scène intérieure
Peeter Neefs et Frans Francken III
La légende de Guillaume Tell présentée devant la guilde de Saint-Sébastien d'Anvers
Scène extérieure
Karel-Emmanuel Biset, Wilhem Schubert von Ehrenberg et Philips Augustijn Immenraet
La Tentation de saint Antoine
Thème religieux
Cornelis Massys
Loth et ses filles
Thème religieux
Jan Metsys
Suzanne et les vieillards
Thème biblique
Jan Metsys
Vue imaginaire d'Anvers avec scènes de la vie de saint Matthieu
Thème religieux
Monogrammiste LC
Nature morte
Nature morte
Jacob van Es
La cuisinière et ses aides
Scène intérieure
Huybrecht Beuckeleer

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