Things to see in Antwerp

Tourist offices

Toerisme Antwerpen

Grote Markt 13, Antwerp, Belgium
Tel: 03 232 0103.
Opening Hours: Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0900-1745, Sun 0900-1645.
www.antwerpen.be/

Diamantmuseum (Diamond Museum)

The history and romance of diamonds are to be found in Antwerp's Diamond Museum, including how and why Antwerp controls 80% of the world's rough diamonds market and 50% of its polished diamond market. There is a diamond cutter at work during week days.

Opening Times: Thurs-Tues 1000-1730.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Koningin Astridplein 19-23, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 202 4890.
Grote Markt (Main Market Square)

At the heart of Antwerp’s Old Town is the magnificent Grote Markt, the city’s biggest drawing card. In the summer,  this cobbled square throngs with tourists, who come to see the imposing Renaissance-style Town Hall, which is flanked on both sides by a row of 16th century guild houses.

An unfeasibly large water feature dominates the centre of the square. Dubbed the Statue of Brabo and the Giant’s Hand, it was erected in 1887 and depicts the legend of Antwerp. As if that wasn’t enough, this architectural extravaganza is overlooked by the tallest gothic church in Europe, the Cathedral of Our Lady.

Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Grote Markt, Antwerp, Belgium
MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom)

Since it opened in 2011, the MAS has transformed this once neglected dockside into a thriving arts district. A feat of modern architecture in itself, Antwerp’s latest attraction is home to some of the city’s most extraordinary exhibitions and a Michelin-starred restaurant.  Constructed of red stone and curved glass, this gargantuan building dominates the dockside and takes visitors on an entertaining and interactive journey through Antwerp’s colourful history. Spread over 10 epic floors, the Museum Aan de Stroom (Museum on the River) also explores man’s relationship with power, religion and art. The exhibits are kooky, fun and unpredictable, while the rooftop panorama is not to be missed.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Hanzestedenplaats 1, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 338 4434.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady)

Described as 'lacework in stone', the largest gothic cathedral in the Low Countries (and still Europe's tallest gothic church) was completed in 1521 and is adorned by Rubens masterpieces of which the Raising of the Cross and the Descent from the Cross are the best known. It has become the symbol of Antwerp and is a stunning sight by night when floodlit.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 1000-1700, Sat 1000-1500, Sun 1000-1600.
Admission Fees: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Groenplaats 21, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 213 9951.
Plantin-Moretus Museum

This fascinating 16th-century patrician house is home to the world’s first industrial printing works and is probably Antwerp's finest and most unexpected visitor attraction. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this museum reaches far beyond the history of publishing to portray the birth of a whole new technology and the lifestyle of the city in its Golden Age. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the history of publishing, it’s hard not to be blown away by this building’s original interior with its tapestries and gilded leather walls. A must see.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Vrijdagmarkt 22, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 221 1450.
Middelheim Museum

This stunning open air art gallery is well worth the bus ride from Antwerp city centre. Visitors can wander around the leafy park spotting a quirky collection of 400 sculptures, which include a sausage massacre, a bendy boat and a series of eerie statues lurking in the woods. The open air museum fuses contemporary art with more traditional works from artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and Rik Wouters. If those names mean nothing to you, then it’s still definitely worth a visit, especially if it’s a sunny day as the park is perfect for picnics.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 1000-1700 (Oct-Mar); Tues-Sun1000-1900 (Apr and Sep); Tues-Sun 1000-2000 (May and Aug); Tues-Sun 1000-2100 (Jun and Jul).
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Middelheimlaan 61, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 288 3360.
Mode Museum/MoMu (Fashion Museum)

Antwerp is a city at the cutting edge of fashion so it seems apt that it should have a museum dedicated to this international obsession. In addition to MoMu’s permanent collection of clothing, lace, embroidery, fabrics and artisans' tools, the museum hosts two themed exhibitions every year to reflect the current trends. Fortunately there are a number of bars nearby, where lads can drink beer while their girlfriends mosey around.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Nationalestraat 28, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 470 2770.
Rubenshuis (Rubens' House)

The former residence of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, today this building is a museum dedicated to the legendary baroque painter, who lived and worked here from 1610 until his death in 1640. Rubens painted some of his most celebrated works here, which was lovingly restored in the 1930s after years of neglect.

As well as a small exhibition of his works (which include Adam and Eve in Paradise, Henry IV in the Battle for Pairs and Self Portrait) the museum displays some of Rubens’ personal possessions and objects d’art. Visitors can also admire the impressive Flemish-Italian Renaissance garden, which was designed by the industrious artist.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Wapper 9-11, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 201 1555.
Ruien (Antwerp Canals)

Don your wellies and your waterproofs because this museum takes you into the damp recesses of Antwerp’s underground canal system. Guides take visitors on tours around this eerie 1.6km (1 mile) network, educating them about the city’s heritage while providing an alternative vantage point from which to view Antwerp. But don’t think you can just pop in and tag along on the next tour – places must be booked three weeks in advance.

Opening Times: Guided walks everyday at 1100 and 1300.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Suikerrui 21 , Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 232 0103.
Antwerp Zoo

Built in 1843, Antwerp's Zoo is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in the world, housing over 6,000 animals from 750 different species. Not only is the zoo renowned for its diverse range of inhabitants, but it has also forged a reputation for scientific research and breeding programmes. If you’re going to go, allow half a day.

Opening Times: Daily from 1000 (closing time varies 1645-1900 depending on season).
Admission Fees: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Konigin Astridsplein 26, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 202 4540.
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Royal Museum of Fine Arts)

Housed in a huge classical building, Antwerp's Royal Museum of Fine Arts is home to a collection fit to grace any world capital, spanning 600 years from the 14th century to the present day; upstairs for Old Flemish and Dutch Masters, downstairs for modern art and temporary exhibitions. Unfortunately, the museum closed for an epic renovation in 2010 and won’t reopen until 2017. Until then some of the museum’s works are being temporarily displayed at the Cathedral of our Lady and the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS).

Opening Times: Closed until 2017.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Leopold De Waelplaats, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 238 7809.
MUHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp)

Housed in a converted grain store, the MUHKA boasts over 4,000sq m (43,055sq ft) of exhibition space, which is used to display a vast collection of art from 1970 to present day. The works come courtesy of Belgian artists, as well as a host of international painters and sculptors. Definitely worth a visit if you have a spare hour or two.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Leuvenstraat 32, Antwerp, Belgium
Telephone: 03 260 9999.
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