Arriving in Antwerp by train has to be the best way….the railway station is amazing.
The stone terminus building was designed by Louis Delacenserie and built between 1895 and 1905. It has a huge dome and 8 smaller towers, 6 of which are reconstructions. There is also a huge glass and iron arched vault which covers the tracks and several gold and diamond shops.
There are construction works taking place in front of the station, so I was difficult to get a good photograph of the exterior which shows how very impressive this building is.
I was keen to go to Antwerp because I am a fan of Dries van Noten, one of the famous Antwerp 6, a group of designers who are based in the city. I went first to see his beautiful shop.
The building itself is gorgeous and his clothes beautiful, unfortunately no photos are allowed inside the shop.
I really had no idea what to expect of Antwerp, but I was delighted with the city. It is full of beautiful buildings and buzzing with life.
There is of course, the hand thrower of Antwerp ( more on that in another post )
There were some really fabulous old buildings.
We went to Peter Paul Rubens house. He bought a house in the city and added another house which was his studio. He also built a beautiful garden behind the houses. No photos were allowed inside the house, which is a pity, because it is an interesting insight into life at the time. The courtyard and gardens were lovely.
The original house.
The added studio.
The artist’s garden.
We found lots of good things to eat in Antwerp.
Belgian waffles…..mine had cherries and chocolate.
Jim’s had chocolate and cream.
We had famous Belgian chips.
And of course, we saw lots of Belgian chocolate.
There were chocolate hands.
A chocolate Napoleon……why not?
A chocolate poodle.
Chocolate poodle poo.
A large chocolate frog.
We couldn’t decide what to buy so we went for a walk. By the time we went back the shops had closed. We found an open supermarket and bought some Cote d’Or, which was delicious and first made in 1883
The elephant on the packaging refers to the times when elephants transported the cocoa beans through the jungles of the Congo. (That’s one explanation, there are others) King Leopold II invaded the Congo to facilitate access to the cocoa fields. These days many chocolate makers work within Fairtrade practices.
Many cities would be delighted with the number of people wandering and shopping in the city centre.
Antwerp is a bustling, sophisticated and interesting city. One day is not enough. I need to go back.
And you just have to love a building with a camel on top.