Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and it sits on the River Scheldt, which links it to the North Sea via the river's estuary. The city gained its name according to folklore, from a giant called Antigoon who lived near the river. He extracted a toll from passing boatmen. Anyone who would not pay, he would cut off one of their hands and threw it into the river. Eventually the giant was killed by a young hero, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. The hand symbol is very evident around the city.
Antwerp appears to have been settle around the time the Romans invaded this region. The Germanic Franks appear to have settle there in the 4th century. The area become Christian by St Amand in the 7th century and by the 10th century it was a boundary town for the Holy Roman Empire. During the 11th century there are the First Crusade lead by Godfrey of Bouillon. Antwerp was also the place of the world's oldest stock exchange building, originally built in 1531.
During the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second largest city in norther Europe, when hundreds of ships would dock every day, traveling from all the known corners of the world, to this day The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world. Antwerp was both economically and culturally an important city in what is known as the Low Countries. The city hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. During World War II, the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British on 4 September 1944.
The city is also known for its diamond industry and trade.
You only really have to turn the corner in Antwerp to find history. There are some really lovely buildings, churches and museums. The Cathedral of Our Lady was started in the 13th Century, well worth the awe and wonder of - how did they do that 700 hundred years ago?
Basically, you can take your pick. Our learner who visited has highly recommended three places to visit.
Take a tour at the Diamond Museum and found out all about the diamond trade, the history, the science, the mathematics and geography of diamonds.
Take a tour of at the Chocolate Nation. This, by all accounts, is a great deal of fun with chocolate tastings and a lot of interactive exhibits. Look out for the chocolate hands.
The final recommendation is very unusual, a subterranean guided tour of the former canals and sewers.
The Rubens House is the 17thcentury former home of the artist Rubens’ show casing his paintings, with sculptures and tapestries. If old art is not to your taste try the Museum of Modern Art great for a wet day. Want to try something different the ModeMuseum is all about fashion couture and the Photo Museum of Antwerp houses a very interesting exhibit of fine art photography.
Zoo Antwerpen is in the centre of the city has a well-established conservation program.
Don’t forget to add all of the activities that you take part in- in to your diary.