2019-10-08 Antwerp, Belgium

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2019-10-08 Antwerp, Belgium

Day 14

Be seduced by beautiful World Heritage-listed Bruges, or discover delightful Antwerp on a guided walking tour, followed by leisure time.
We have decided to stay in Antwerp and go on the guided walking tour. Its the last day and everyone is a bit tired! Not to mention, yes its overcast with threatening rain!  And yes it did rain again!  Karen and Kim went into the Cathedral to view the art work on display.  Should have gone with them it looked like one of the best of the trip!  But Kevin, Diana and I wandered through a shopping mall before meeting up with them.  We stopped for some flowers for Michelle before walking back to the ship.  The people were late getting back from Bruges – traffic accident – so we were a bit late starting our  last cruise to Amsterdam!  We got our packing done and enjoyed a last evening in the lounge listening to music with David.

Though excavations have shown that Antwerp was inhabited during the Gallo-Roman period (2nd or 3rd century A.D.) it was not until the 12th century that the city first experienced an economic boom.   It became the most important trading and financial centre in Western Europe by mid 14th century.   Unfortunately in the second half of the 16th century, the  politico-religious struggles between the Protestant North and Catholic South (Spain), led to the River Scheldt being closed and Antwerp went into serious decline.  It was not until 1863 that the river was finally reopened for good and since then, except for the two world wars, Antwerp has experienced a steady economic growth.

The Vleeshuis (Meat House) is a former guildhall for butchers now a museum.  The slope (stairs on the right) where the Drie Hespenstraat meets the Burchtgracht was known as the Bloedberg or Blood Mountain. The current Late-Gothic building was constructed between 1501 and 1504 and is the third Vleeshuis on the site replacing the second one built in 1250 (date of the first is unknown).

Grote Markt -The main square of Antwerp is dominated by the 16th century Stadhuis, surrounded by incredible Guild Houses and in the center of the square is the 1887 Brabo Fountain.

The Stadhuis  (City Hall) of Antwerp on the western side of Antwerp’s Grote Markt. Erected between 1561 and 1565 this Renaissance building incorporates both Flemish and Italian influences.

The Vlaeykensgang is a small medieval (15th/16th century) street hidden between two busy Antwerp streets and close to the Cathedral.  Once  the domain of shoemakers, some of the poorest people of the city lived in that very small street.

Cathedral of Our Lady – building started in 1352 and though the first stage of construction was ended in 1521, it has never been completed.

Groenplaats  Square was a cemetery until the 18thC when Emperor Joseph II abolished cemeteries inside the city walls.  In 1843 a bronze statue of the artist Rubens was placed in the center of the Groenplaats replacing a large crucifix that stood here.  Behind the statue is a view of the Cathedral of our Lady.

The Museum aan de Stroom is a museum located along the river Scheldt in the Eilandje district of Antwerp. The largest museum in Antwerp it opened in May 2011 replacing the Ethnographic and Maritime Museums.

Zaha Hadidplein – Named after the architect, the new headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority was opened in 2016. The design incorporates an old fire station, integrating it with a contemporary diamond-shaped structure marked by straight edges, with an additional column providing support from the ground. The old fire station is a protected replica of a former Hanseatic house and could not be demolished.

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