Interesting facts about Antwerp

Antwerp is a city in Belgium and the capital of Antwerp province in the Flemish Region.

It is situated on the Schelde (Scheldt) River, about 88 km (55 miles) from the North Sea.

As of January 2021, the population of Antwerp is about 530,000 people.

The city covers a total area of 205 square kilometers (79 square miles).

The city’s elevation is about 16 meters (52.5 feet) above sea level.

Humans resided in Antwerp on the banks of the river ‘Scheldt’, as long ago as the 2nd and 3rd century AD during the Roman era.

Further excavations show that the site was inhabited again during 650 when Christianity arrived in Europe.

Later on, the Vikings attacked the city in 836 resulting city inhabitants to migrate to ‘aanwerp’, an alluvial mound, where later the Steen castle was built.

After the decline of the Burgs in the 15th and 16th centuries, Antwerp became a major trading port.

In the Golden era of 16th century, the city started maturing as the most economic and cultural hub in the world.

Until 1859 Antwerp lay surrounded by its 16th-century fortified walls, which were transformed in the latter half of the 19th century into broad avenues as a larger half circle of fortifications was built.

During World War I, Antwerp became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège in August 1914.

During World War II Nazi Germany occupied Antwerp in May 1940, and the British 11th Armoured Division liberated the city on September 4, 1944.

Today, Antwerp is a major port, diamond exporter and a tourist attraction.

The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp. Today’s see of the Diocese of Antwerp started in 1352 and, although the first stage of construction was ended in 1521, has never been ‘completed’. In Gothic style, its architects were Jan and Pieter Appelmans. It contains a
number of significant works by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens, as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos. The belfry of the cathedral is included in the Belfries of Belgium and France entry in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Grote Markt of Antwerp is a town square situated in the heart of the old city quarter. It is filled with an extravagant city hall, numerous elaborate 16th century guildhalls, many restaurants and cafés. Lying within walking distance of the Scheldt river, it hosts a Christmas market and ice rink in winter.

The Stadhuis (City Hall) of Antwerp, stands on the western side of Antwerp’s Grote Markt. Erected between 1561 and 1565 after designs made by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt and several other architects and artists, this Renaissance building incorporates both Flemish and Italian influences. The Stadhuis is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List along with the belfries of Belgium and France.

The Rubenshuis is the former home and workshop of Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. Purchased in 1610, Rubens had the Flemish townhouse renovated and extended on the basis of designs by Rubens himself. After the renovations the house and its courtyard garden had the outlook of an Italian palazzo, which reflected Rubens’ artistic ideals. The ensemble is now a museum dedicated mainly to the work of Rubens and his contemporaries.

St. Charles Borromeo Church is a church in central Antwerp, located on the Hendrik Conscience square. It was built in 1626 as the Jesuit church of Antwerp, which was closed in 1773. It was rededicated in 1779 to Saint Charles Borromeo. The church was formerly known for 39 ceiling pieces by Rubens that were lost in a fire when lightning struck the church on 18 July 1718.

The Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) is a museum located along the river Scheldt in the Eilandje district of Antwerp. It opened in May 2011 and is the largest museum in Antwerp. The central focus of the MAS is Antwerp and its connection to the world. The MAS collection ranges from maritime objects which document international trade and shipping, to the history, art and culture of the port city of Antwerp and to art and culture from Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania.

The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing museum in Antwerp, Belgium which focuses on the work of the 16th-century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. It is located in their former residenc and printing establishment, the Plantin Press, at the Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market) in Antwerp, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.

Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp, one of Europe’s biggest ports. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp’s oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.

The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking second in Europe and within the top 20 globally.

In 2020, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network rated Antwerp as a Gamma + level Global City.

The inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, “lord”, referring to the Spanish noblemen who ruled the city in the 17th century.

The city hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics.