The surprising city of Antwerp

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Europe » Belgium
April 16th 2018
Published: April 16th 2018
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Antwerp is Europe's 2nd largest port and therefore one would not expect it to be a pretty place. How wrong you would be as we discovered. Lovely cobbled streets with some narrow medieval walk ways and lots of bars and restaurants not to mention the lovely chocolate shops. Rubens was born here so you can visit his house and there are lots of museums with lots of art which unfortunately we didn't have the time to visit. However the most famous of Ruben's paintings are in the Cathedral and should not be missed. They are the huge Ascent on the Cross and the Descent from the Cross and an Assumption of the Virgin in the cupola. For the first hour we were taken round by a very funny Belgian who told us some very amusing tales about the town. We would not have discovered the tiny narrow streets without him. One of the oldest buildings is a Fort which has been modified over the years to become a prison and more lately a museum. There is a large statue of a giant hovering over two drunken sailors outside of it. The story goes that an inhabitant called Brabo killed the giant and cut off his hand and threw it into the sea. There is a large fountain in the main square with him throwing the hand. In the cafes your coffee is served with a chocolate and also a little biscuit in the shape of a hand- only in Antwerp. Our guide told us the story of how many Japanese tourists come to visit the Cathedral and when they stand in front of the Ruben's painting of Descent from the Cross, they all start crying. It turns out that there is a Japanese story of how a poor little boy with a dog wanted to see the painting. He couldn't pay to see it as he was poor so he had to wait for special times when it was free to see such as at Xmas. He walked over the fields with his dog in the freezing weather and got into the Cathedral to see the painting. However he was so cold that he died in front of the painting, so that is why the Japanese cry. Outside in the square is a recent statue of a young boy with a dog and he looks very Japanese. It could be true or a shaggy dog story ,I don't know.

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20th April 2018

Antwerpen, one of my favourite Cities.
I will be there in June for a couple of weeks staying with Ils. A very surprising place is Flanders with lots of hidden treasures.

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