SIX FREE THINGS YOU MUST SEE IN ANTWERP
Everybody loves a freebie. I mean, you should see my eyes light up when I hear the word. So for once, I was organised enough to do some research before I visited Antwerp for the first time and was amazed and delighted to discover several cultural gems in the city that were free to enjoy. I highly recommend that you see these for yourselves!
Oude Koornmarkt 16 Antwerpen
Located in the city centre just a stone’s throw from Our Lady’s Cathedral, you’ll find the secret Vlaeykensgang alley which dates back to the 16th century. You’d miss it unless you were looking for it – enter through Oude Koornmarkt 16 and wander over the cobblestones. There is a restaurant, art gallery and antique store.
Rodestraat 39 Antwerpen
Previously home to beguines (devout women who lived in a community without taking religious vows), the beguinage today has a residential function. I was fortunate enough to meet one of the elderly women who lives in one of the red bricked houses. Beside the beautiful garden on the cobbled streets which also houses the charming St Catherine’s Church, this 78 year old Belgian woman struck up a conversation with me in French, telling me that approximately 40 elderly people now occupy the beguinage, all whom work with young people. After admiring the façade, take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet sitting on one of the benches in the garden.
St. Anna's Tunnel (The Underpass)
Connecting the city’s left and right bank is St Anna’s Tunnel (or the Underpass), which was opened in 1933. Authentic wooden escalators are located on each side to allow pedestrians and cyclists to access the tunnel. Unfortunately, there were workmen fixing the escalators on the right bank when I visited so I didn’t get to ride the escalators myself, but if you cross the river to the Left Bank, you can view the Antwerp skyline from the riverbank.
Situated in the heart of the old city quarter, you will find Antwerp’s City Hall, adorned with colourful flags, the Brabo fountain, the guildhalls, the tourist office (Stadhuis van Antwerpen) and a spattering of cafes and restaurants around the square.
Walk through Diamond City
The heart of the diamond trade worldwide since 1447, any newly engaged woman would be daft to not visit one of the safest parts of the city. Stores display their dazzling stones in numerous shop windows with shopkeepers on standby to invite you in for a closer inspection of their goods.
Koningin Astridplein 27, Antwerpen
Following almost a decade of renovations at the beginning of the 21st century, Antwerp’s Central Station reverted its status as a terminus in 2007, when a railway tunnel underneath the station was revealed to allow trains to continue their journeys onwards. Considered one of the most beautiful train stations worldwide, take a moment to admire one of the finest examples of railway architecture in Belgium.