The Grote Markt makes for a splendid vision in the middle of the city and evokes instant awe with its varied sights, smells, and sounds. Dominated by the renaissance style Stadhuis (city hall), the square is lined with numerous guildhalls, high patrician houses with step gables and gold-plated ornaments and statuettes. The famous tavern Den Engel is located here, and it is also home to several traditional cafes and shops. One of the square's most enchanting landmarks is the Brabo fountain, which is steeped in mythical history. It features the late 19th Century statue of the legendary Roman Silvius Brabo, a braveheart, who according to Danish folklore, saved Antwerp from Druon the giant.
One of the largest squares in the city, Groenplaats is the ideal starting point for visitors of the historic center. It gets quite busy during the summer tourist season. You'll enjoy numerous café terraces and restaurants. Street musicians provide background music, and the pubs provide great Belgian beers. Don't forget to try a Bolleke Koninck, a light brown ale which is brewed in Antwerp. Nearby you'll find cute copper, pewter and lace shops, the Fnac bookstore, the Hilton and the Cathedral.
The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp is a treasure trove for art lovers. Although completed in 1521, nearly 170 years after the first foundation stone was laid, the original design was never fully realized. Even today, one of the two towers remains incomplete, while the completed spire is reputed to be the tallest in Benelux at a height of 123 meters (403.5 feet). An impressive example of the Gothic style of architecture, the historic church boasts a detailed front that draws the eyes upward to the pinnacle of its lofty spire. The cathedral also houses an extensive collection of ecclesiastical art, including four altarpieces painted by Peter Paul Rubens. Vibrant stained-glass windows and rich carvings are some of the other treasures enshrined within the Cathedral of Our Lady. It was especially a stunning sight when lit up at night.
Bobbejaanland has more than 50 dry and wet attractions including some amazing roller coasters. Try the exciting El Rio, Locomotion, Bob Express and the spectacular Thrillenium Ride. Younger kids will enjoy the fairytale ride through "Kinderland." And, don't forget to buy your coin for the car park before you leave. Please call for open hours.
Home to some of the most mesmerizing masterpieces of the Flemish Baroque school of art, Rubenshuis is one of the best repositories of fine art in the city. It was also the home of one of the most influential artists of his time, Peter Paul Rubens, who continues to assert artistic influence in Brussels even after four centuries of his existence. His collection of artwork is housed within Rubenshuis, a grand Italian-style villa which he designed himself. Equal parts home and art studio, Rubenshuis was where some of his most renowned artworks were birthed, including Adam and Eve and The Annunciation. The collection at the museum also includes myriad artworks produced by his protege, Anthony van Dyck, and four of Ruben's self-portraits.
Fakkelteater is used by several performing art companies and can accommodate up to 300 people. In the Teatercafé you can enjoy a drink, and on Sundays you can witness live bands, small orchestras and choirs. The Kelderteater is located in the basement and is used by smaller companies for performances for audiences below 200.
The Raamteater was established in 1978. Since 1986, it was nestled in a wing of an old college in the De Vrièrestraat, near the Museum for Fine Arts in the South area of Antwerp. However, the support of sponsors and the work of volunteers has transformed this building into a monumental venue based on the original plans of an old theatre with a wonderful courtyard surrounded by galleries. This is a truly unique place to enjoy art. The first performance held here was Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.
Iteco is a center dedicated to development of countries and intercultural training. This may sound a bit heavy-handed, but in Brussels, these people have specialized in the organization of "colored walks" through town, which try to show you the Turkish or Morrocan Brussels from the inside.
Rubens was not the only famous painter who lived in Antwerp. Let's not forget Jacob Jordaens, who lived and worked here in the 17th century. His former house and studio in Reyndersstraat is now used as an exhibition venue where young and promising artists have the opportunity to show their work. Jordaens' house can be visited from the outside at all times. If there is an exhibition, visitors can also enter and have a closer look at the interior of the house.
Troubleyn Theater is the brainchild of Jan Fabre that plays a vital role in the local theater scene. Enjoy a plethora of musicals and creative productions from this theater company that is also home to a plethora of other cultural events like music shows and concerts. Rehearse here or simply let your creative juices flow as you have the experience of a lifetime! Check website for more details on current and upcoming events.
The WIK Cultuurhal,an integral part of the WIK fanfare provides a lucrative outlet to budding and established musicians. Being inclined particularly to musical theater, the Cultuurhal also houses a rehearsal room, restaurant and cafeteria to provide their visitors an extra edge. For further details on any of WIK's ongoing events, do visit their website or call ahead.
Located a few miles east of Antwerp in the charming town of Wachtebeke is the Cultureel Centrum Wachtebeke. This venue consists of a grand old building that impresses all with its stunning facade and state-of-the-art amenities. Hosting concerts, plays, musicals, community fests, workshops, trainings and other cultural events, it is the cultural epicenter of Wachtebeke. Check website for a list of upcoming events.