Although officially Antwerp is Belgium’s second city, its citizens view their hometown as the top of the premier league and refuse to concede second place status to that pretender of a capital, Brussels. And they have much to be proud of. This city has seen a magnificent transformation in the past 50 years, from wounded and bombed-out war victims to the strikingly confident and beautiful city of today. Popular among fashion moguls and art-lovers, Antwerp’s cobbled-lane centre is crammed full of antique shops, designer boutiques and exclusive chocolate outlets where spending money can be happily squandered.
Antwerp’s culture, history, vibrant nightlife and world-class shopping are now within easy reach, thanks to excellent access by air, train, motorway and even water.
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Hotel Julien is located in the middle of the historic centre of, it’s perfectly situated between the cathedral and the main shopping streets. Just behind an impressive door you will find a quiet and serene environment to chill out and to discover a feel-at-home atmosphere with a big emphasis on quality and service.
Welcome to Small Luxury & Boutique Hotel De Witte Lelie, built in the 17th century and located right in the city center. It is a relaxed hotel full of contemporary design and with a wide range of services. The hotel counts 11 rooms and Suites in total.
Boulevard Leopold is a B&B in a truly grand style: the main apartment comes with a sitting room larger than most London flats and a spare bedroom for extra guests. This 19th-century mansion is a traditional Jewish quarter has been renovated with a light but idiosyncratic touch – owners Vincent and Bert wanted it to feel like the home of a beloved grandparent. The kitchen is Bert’s domain – a chef by training, he bakes the bread fresh every day for breakfast.
Shopping is an obligatory pursuit in the city that spawned the Antwerp Six … and here’s a list of some of the best places for Furniture & Objects and design.
The first Belgian flagship store of Italian design label in the city, Cappellini. Here you’ll find chairs, lamps,beds, sofas and other interior objects created by designers such as Marc Newson, Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Ora Ito and many others.
One of the best interior shops of Antwerp, this store very recently moved into a huge industrial building on Vlaamse Kaai, which is located in the South District, between the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Muhka and the FotoMuseum. Art or design, the choice is up to you!
After all, these shopping moments let’s see some of the best Design Centers.
DESIGNCENTER | DE WINKELHAAK
This award-winning building is a magnificent example of Antwerp’s creativity. The business centre for designers leases out studios, coaches and promotes designers. The structure of the building invites designers from different disciplines to get in touch with each other and work together. A small but splendid design shop offers you the best of Belgian design. In cooperation with the city of Antwerp DESIGNCENTER | DE WINKELHAAK organized several design walks. Also, a guided tour of the building can be organized on demand whether you want an introduction to the design classics of modern architecture, or you are in the mood for shopping. There is a pamphlet to accompany each route, available at DESIGNCENTER | DE WINKELHAAK (also the starting point of each walk) and at the tourist offices in Antwerp.
Studio Job opened an exhibition space and studio in Antwerp. Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel are the designers behind the new initiative and concept. Smeets calls it a ‘chameleonic’ space, somewhere between a gallery, platform and refuge for their work and others they admire. The industrial space is situated in a former cigar factory, close to museums and Antwerp’s buzzing south district. The aim of this contemporary gallery is to organise different exhibitions throughout the year.
What about the restaurants? We have amazing choices to show you hove to enjoy a perfect evening meal.
Kenny and Wendy’s restaurant really is InVINcible! The food, which is of French inspiration, has the starring role.
Bij Lam & Yin
This Chinese restaurant goes against the grain, challenging preconceived ideas about Asian cuisine. It has a minimalist flavour.
De Reddende Engel
Provence and Gascony come together in this rustic house near the cathedral. Enjoy dishes such as bouillabaisse from Mars.
Culturally rich, the Antwerp city is rich in amazing museums from art, design, fashion, and history.
The collection preserved at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp provides a representative picture of art produced in our regions between the fourteenth century and the present day.
Antwerp has been known as the Diamond Centre of the World for centuries. So it is hardly surprising that this city is home to the largest Diamond Museum in the world.
The MUHKA’s 4.000 square metres of exhibition space devoted to art from 1970 to the present day. The building and the collection, which of course is constantly being added to, belongs to the Flemish Community.
The Provincial Museum of Photography uses photographs, pieces of equipment and other object and documents to illustrate the history of this technique and art. It is one of the world’s major museums in the genre.
If fifties modernism is your thing, then you will surely appreciate a visit to the own house of visionary architect Renaat Braem (1910-2001). Exterior and interior with furniture are intact. Guided tours for individuals are available every Saturday at 2pm, but only after registration. Tours are in Dutch but what your ears miss will definitely be compensated by what your eyes see!
The face of Hugo Boss, muse to Gaia Repossi and dedicated charity ambassador, Anouck Lepère originally studied to be an architect at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, hence, her eye for design as seen throughout the chic home. We have this pictures from her house in Antwerp. The Belgian beauty has fronted campaigns for Missoni, Chanel and Peter Pilotto and been photographed by the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Mario Testino.
To end the city guide we will leave you with some info and points of interest.
Visit Antwerp in July and August to catch Zommer van Antwerpen (www.zva.be), an invigorating performing arts festival that takes place in squares across the city.
Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady
The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium. Today’s see of theDiocese of Antwerp was started in 1352 and, although the first stage of construction was ended in 1521, has never been ‘completed’. InGothic style, its architects were Jan and Pieter Appelmans.
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