Antwerp, where we can admire the largest and highest Cathedral of northern Europe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, inside the wonderful paintings of Petrus Paulus Rubens, considered the best Flemish painter of all time. The Meir, the shop avenue with the Ruben’s house museum and the Diamondland, the museum of the diamonds. The Scheldt it’s also the most important river of Belgium: 355 km and was strategically important for the ambitions of Napoleon and Hitler.
The Scheldt is the longest and largest rive in Belgium, The Scheldt estuary has always had considerable commercial and strategic importance. In Roman days it was important for the shipping lanes to Britannia. The Franks took control over the region c. 260 and at first interfered with the Roman supply routes as pirates. Later they became allies of the Romans. With the various divisions of the Frankish Empire in the 9th century, the Scheldt eventually became the border between the West and the East Empire, which later became France and the Holy Roman Empire.
This status quo remained intact—at least on paper—until 1528, although by then both Flanders on the western bank and Zeeland and Brabant on the east were part of the Habsburg possessions of the Seventeen Provinces. Antwerp was the most prominent harbor of Western Europe. After this city fell back under Spanish control in 1585 the Dutch Republic took control of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, a strip of land on the left shore, and closed the Scheldt for shipping. This shifted the trade to the ports of Amsterdam and Middelburg and seriously crippled Antwerp—an important and traumatic element in the history of relations between the Netherlands and what was to become Belgium.
Access to the river was the subject of the brief 1784 Kettle War, and—in the French Revolutionary era shortly afterwards—the river was reopened in 1792. Once Belgium had claimed its independence from the Netherlands in 1830 the treaty of the Scheldt determined that the river should remain accessible to ships headed for Belgian ports, nevertheless, the Dutch government would demand a toll until July 16, 1863.
The Question of the Scheldt, a study providing “a history of the international legal arrangements governing the Western Scheldt”, was prepared for the use of British negotiators at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
In World War II the estuary once again became a contested area. Despite allied control of Antwerp, in September 1944 German forces still occupied fortified positions throughout the Scheldt estuary west and north, preventing any allied shipping to the port. In the Battle of the Scheldt, the Canadian First Armysuccessfully cleared the area, allowing supply convoys direct access to the port of Antwerp by November 1944.
A year after marrying Isabella Brant in 1609, Rubens began construction on an Italian-style villa on the then-Vaartstraat (now the Wapper, 9-11), at the time located at the banks of the canal HerentalseVaart. Rubens designed the building himself, based on studies of Italian Renaissancepalace architecture that also formed the basis of his Palazzi di Genova.
The layout includedhis home, studio, a monumental portico and an interior courtyard. The courtyard opens into a Baroque garden that he also planned.In the adjacent studio he and his students executed many of the works for which Rubens is famous. He had established a well-organized workshop that met the demands of his active studio, including large commissions from England, France, Spain and Bavaria and other locations. He relied on students and collaborators for much of the actual work. Rubens himself, however, guaranteed the quality and often finished paintings with his own hand. In a separate private studio he made drawings, portraits and small paintings without the assistance of his students and collaborators.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral of Our Lady (Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium. Today’s see of the Diocese of Antwerp was 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 cathedral is on the list of World Heritage Sites.
THE STOCK EXCHANGE
From the end of the fifteenth century, the meaning of Bruges as an international hub off. After 1531 Antwerp took on the role as a trading center of Bruges.
The Antwerp wholesalers and proficient in 1485 asked the permission of the city government to a “gemeyneBorze” enterprise. The Old Exchange was erected in the center of the former Antwerp trade life.Furthermore, the word itself come from a noble family “De Beurs”which were trading specially with the Italians from the North of Italy.
The headquarters of the diamond are close to the station, and we have also the stock exchange of diamonds. Diamond land it’s a “museum” with internal guides explaining the history of diamonds, despite the fact that nowadays the nest of the diamond business is Bombay and not Antwerp: the cut of Antwerp was the best in the 17th century but not anymore with the globalization and open market.
The Antwerp ZOO is one of the oldest and best-known zoos in Europe. It will take you and your parents at least half a day to see and do it all! The penguins live in Vriesland with their own arctic enclosure, elephants and giraffes are as tall as the Egyptian temple they stay in and hippopotamuses goof around in a pink villa. 950 different species and 5000 animals live at the zoo, that’s more than all the sweets you’ll ever eat all in one place!
Antwerp ZOO is also a very special place because it has a program to help save animals that are endangered such as bonobos and okapi. What are they? You may ask – well come and visit the zoo to see who’s who!
The Zoo’s beautiful buildings and garden have been listed as monuments and when it was built in 1843, more than 150 years ago it was just outside of the city’s walls. Now – the city has grown so much that the ZOO is now in the middle of town and is a green oasis next to Central Station.
SAINT JAMES CHURCH
St. James Antwerp (1491 – 1656) is rich in history and cultural heritage. The church houses the tomb of Peter Paul Rubens and possesses one of the most beautiful baroque interiors of Western Europe.
The Grote Markt (“Great Market Square”) of Antwerp is situated in the heart of the old city quarter. At walking distance, the Scheldt river flows alongside the city. It is a town square with many guildhalls. The statue in the middle represents the Brabo, a legendary fighter which defeated the giantAntigoon and threatened his hand in the Scheldt (from Brabo comes the name Brabant and from his legend Antwerp (hand throwing).
THE BUTCHER’S GUILDHALL
The Vleeshuis (Butcher’s Hall, or literally Meat House) in Antwerp, Belgium is a former guildhall. It is now a museum located between the DrieHespenstraat, the Repenstraat and the Vleeshouwersstraat. The slope where the DrieHespenstraat meets the Burchtgracht used to be known as the Bloedberg or Blood Mountain.
Antwerp is famous not just for his diamonds of Rubens painting but also because of his original liberty style. The central station is an authentic masterpiece of mixed style, which are inspired from liberty (eclectic).