The city of Antwerp, Belgium, is a city that I expected nothing of. Since Belgium is one of Western Europe’s most underrated destinations, Antwerp may fall under the radar to larger cities such as Brussels & the popular Bruges.
I’m here to officially put Antwerp back on your radar.
The tiny city housing roughly half a million people is an incredible economic force hosting the 2nd largest port in Europe. Just to put this into perspective, the port in Antwerp is roughly the same size of the 2nd largest port in the United States (Houston, Tx). Outside of the ports in China, Antwerp is the 7th largest port in the world.
Another very unique aspect about Antwerp that I find fascinating is the diamond district. The city of the Antwerp is the center of business when it comes to anything having to do with diamonds, the open diamond market in Antwerp consumes the vast majority of all rough, polished, and industrial diamonds in the world.
I found it remarkable that most of us know the household names of huge economic & cultural cities like London, New York City, and Barcelona, but don’t even know a city like Antwerp which is extremely interesting in its own right.
Aside from its economic might, Antwerp is an absolutely gorgeous city
Most people will arrive in Antwerp via the train station which is otherwise known as a train cathedral. The building is one of the most beautiful train stations in all of Europe and possibly one of the most beautiful in the world.
To be greeted with such magnificence says a lot about the city’s pride and how its people want you to be welcomed into the city. I was very curious when the train was approaching the station and I saw imposing towers on each side of the station.
Once I entered the building and started to look around I was happy to hear that the city recently completed an extensive renovation to the building that was completed in 2009. It now comes fully equipped with Starbucks, one of my favorite attractions inside the station.
Once I arrived at my hotel I was able to witness a great sunset with a fantastic view of the train station and I immediately set out on my adventure to discover the city.
At first glance, I realized that I was around the corner to Antwerp’s China Town and as I kept walking I found my favorite cuisine in Belgium, Turkish Durum (Shwarmas). Outside of the historical presence of Belgium, I felt an eerie feeling that I was in Toronto because of the diversity of the city.
The diversity of Antwerp is something to behold with many different people from all walks of life. There is large presence of Jews, Indians, Muslims, Chinese, Turks, and even Africans.
Antwerp also happens to be known for its fashion prowess, Europeans come to Antwerp to find many top designers that you wouldn’t expect to find here.
The Royal Academy of Fine Arts is luring top prospective fashion students from around the world and instead of taking their talents to New York or Paris, they are deciding to stay in Antwerp.
I stumbled upon many top designers and an impressive hall that is now used as a shopping mall
Another very unique aspect about Antwerp that I find fascinating is the diamond district. The city of the Antwerp is the center of business when it comes to anything having to do with diamonds. The open diamond market in Antwerp consumes more than 85% of all rough, polished, and industrial diamonds in the world. That’s an astonishing figure considering that the global production volume of rough diamonds in 2012 was a staggering 128 million carats.
The best way that to describe Antwerp is a small city that has a larger than life attitude. The charming streets of the old city where cars are banned provides great opportunity to enjoy Belgium’s historic allure.
The insatiable appetite of the Belgian people to provide nothing but the best combination of quality of living has elevated the city as a great place to visit, live, shop, and vacation.
Next time you are in Belgium, I would highly recommend a visit to the little city that could.