We have a famous saying in Flemish "Antwerpen stad en al de rest is parking" which means "Antwerp is the city and everything else in Belgium is the parking lot". Which (obviously) originates from Antwerp, the city of diamonds, itself. Next to the delicious sandwich they invented and the beautiful parks around the city, there are some places you definitely must see when visiting Antwerp. Let me show these must sees.
Located next to the river Scheldt is the museum MAS. With its red bricks and strange form you are unable to not see it when you pass by. In the year 1999 an international architecture competition was held and the winning design is what you can observe now as the MAS. On the third floor there are exhibitions held, so if you are in the neighborhood you can always go and take a look.
In front of the city hall of Antwerp you can see the Brabo Fontain. The statue refers to a famous story about the origin of Antwerp. The giant Antigoon used to live a next to the river Scheldt a long time ago and asked toll from the boats that wanted to pass his part of the river. Some people did not want to pay this and he cut of their hands and threw them in the river. He was later on killed by Brabo, who also cut of his hand and threw it in the river. The action "to threw the hand" is "hand werpen" in Dutch, which when said fast sounds as Antwerpen. The statue is also positioned that it shows Brabo throwing the hand in the city.
One comic book we have the most of at home is "Suske and Wiske" from Willy Vandersteen. They are mostly directed towards children, but even as an adult they are fun to read. Antwerp is the hometown of Willy Vandersteen and that is why you can various references to this comic book all throughout the city. In 1945 the first story about Wiske was published weekly in a newspaper and people liked his comics so much that when he changed jobs from one paper company to another in 1947, 250 people changed their paper to keep following him. The comics were always placed on the last page of the paper and it became a habit for people to first go to the back of the paper to read the comics and to then focus on the actual news written in it.
The one thing (next to shopping) Antwerp is known most for in Belgium is the zoo they have. As a child I went there many times and I remember being sad they don't have polar bears. Next to that it is a very nice place to spend the day and look at the animals (trust me they have a lot of different species, just no polar bears :) ). They have around 6000 animals and it is one of the biggest and most diverse zoos in Europe.
This cathedral has switched in the past between a church and a cathedral, but for now it is known as a cathedral and is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It is a beautiful Gothic building and definitely worth a visit if you have heard of the story about "Flanders dog". The cathedral is the home to some beautiful Rubens paintings and is also impressive to see from the inside.
The central train station of Antwerp is also worth a visit. If you come to visit the city by train you can arrive at this station and be welcomed by the building. It exists of different levels and is a mixture of old and new architecture on the inside (the platforms have been renewed). It is also located next to the zoo, so that is a plus if you want go and visit the zoo as well.
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