With roughly half a million inhabitants, Antwerp is the second-largest city of Belgium (after Brussels, the capital). It’s also home to the world’s largest diamond industry. When you’re in Belgium, don’t just visit Brugge and Brussels (though these are sure worth a visit), but stop by Antwerp as well.
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The name Antwerpen actually comes from the old word for "harbour", but not according to a well-known myth. The story goes that Antwerp was terrorized by a giant called Lange Wapper, who made the passing ships pay toll – until one day a brave little guy named Brabo fought and killed him, chopping of his hand and throwing it into the Scheldt. Throwing hands in Dutch is "hand werpen", hence "Antwerpen". The statue on the central square (Grote Markt) illustrates this myth.
1 Euro = 40.34 Belgian Francs (BF)
Antwerp can be reached by airplane, train or bus – train being most likely. The two main stations are Antwerpen Centraal in the city centre and Antwerpen-Berchem. For the time being most trains only stop at Berchem, but taking a train to Centraal is free with your ticket to Antwerp. If you’re under 26 and travelling within Belgium by train, consider getting a Go-Pass. For more rail info check out the Belgian Railways site.
Tickets to busses or trams within Antwerp cost 40 BF for a single ride (one hour; buy them from the driver) or 300 BF for 10 (buy them from newsagents). Don’t expect public transport to be on time.
If there’s one thing you won’t have trouble finding in Antwerp, it’s pubs. For a closer look into the pub scene, see the March 2001 article.
You can get up to one hour of free internet access per day at the central public library (Lange Nieuwstraat 105), but I suppose you do have to pay for a librarycard first.
The most famous painters that came from Antwerp are Pieter Paul Rubens and his student Antoon Van Dijck. The house where Rubens used to live and work is now Antwerp’s most visited museum (address: Wapper 9-11).
I’m 23 years old. My nickname on the internet is "seraphim". I enjoy dark music, reading (favourite writers include Vladimir Nabokov, Clive Barker, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lieve Joris and Edgar Allen Poe), writing, British television, Belgian beer and of course travelling. I have German army combat boots.