Antwerp (Antwerpen in Dutch, Anvers in French) is one of Europe's great once-drab, now-reborn port cities. It's the biggest city and de facto capital of Flanders, with an illustrious history, a collection of top-tier museums, and a unique urban grittiness (some might say seediness) mingling with avant-garde fashion and a youthful trendiness. Its big-city bustle is the yang to Bruges' cutesy-village yin. Once Europe's most important trading city, later the hometown of Peter Paul Rubens, destroyed by World War II and then reborn, and recently emerging as a European fashion capital, Antwerp is more than the sum of its parts.
At a Glance
▲▲ Rubens House The richly decorated home, studio, and garden of Peter Paul Rubens, with a few of his paintings to boot.
▲▲ Cathedral of Our Lady Cavernous church packed with fine artwork, including paintings by Rubens.
▲▲ Museum Plantin-Moretus Early printing presses, workshops, and memorabilia from Antwerp’s Golden Age.
▲▲ Red Star Line Museum Illustrates the “other end” of the Ellis Island experience, where emigrants were processed on their way to the New World.
▲ Rockox House Museum Aristocratic 17th-century home with impressive art, furniture, and delightful garden courtyard.
▲ ModeMuseum (MoMu) Rotating exhibits showcasing contemporary Belgian fashion and designers, and home of the Antwerp Fashion Academy.
▲ Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) Displays focusing on Antwerp’s and Belgium’s history of trade and cultural exchange — plus a rooftop viewpoint.
Musical Instruments Museum Well-presented exhibits of instruments and old music manuscripts.