The 25 best sights of Antwerp – descriptions and photos

Antwerp sights

Antwerp ‘s Cathedral Notre Dame Antwerp Castle Wall Antwerp City Hall River Scheldt Antwerp Zoo Rubens House MAS Museum St. Charles Borromeo Church

This site contains a collection of Antwerp attractions, photos, descriptions, and traveler tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to questions: what to see in Antwerp, where to go, and where are the popular and interesting places in Antwerp.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp

Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp (photo)

The main cathedral of Antwerp, one of the largest churches of the Roman Catholic Church and a monument of medieval Gothic culture. The cathedral can be seen from anywhere in the city and is considered a symbol of Antwerp. It is the highest cathedral in Belgium. It also has the tallest church tower of the Benelux (123 meters).

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp was laid in 1352, and although the first phase was completed in 1521, the cathedral is still considered unfinished.

The cathedral has more than just architectural value. It now houses works by famous artists such as Pieter Rubens, Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Martin de Vos. The cathedral has two organs, one of which is 130 years old. This organ is 10 meters long and occupies a space of three floors. It is made up of 90 registers.

Coordinates: 51.22055600,4.40055600

The Castle Walls

The Walled Castle (photo)

A castle in the center of Antwerp. The exact date of the origin of the Sten Castle, as well as Antwerp itself, is unknown. Most likely, it was not earlier than VII century. The walls of the castle were laid as early as the IX century. This is the most colorful monument on the Scheldt embankment and at the same time the oldest preserved remains of the settlement.

Once the castle belonged to Gottfried of Bouillon – the famous leader of the First Crusade. Later it became the seat of the city government. During Spanish rule the Inquisition was located here, which severely dealt with heretics, freethinkers and witches.

At present, the castle houses the National Maritime Museum. In 1963, the monument to Long-Haired Vapper, a character from Antwerp folklore who transformed himself into a dwarf or a giant, frightened naughty children and drunks who wandered off the road, was erected in front of the castle.

Coordinates: 51.22250200,4.39697100

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Antwerp City Hall

Antwerp City Hall (photo)

The Antwerp City Hall was originally designed by a Flemish architect named Cornelis Floris. In the process of construction he applied his own system of decorative framing, which in the future acquired the name “Floristil” and significantly influenced the artistic tradition in Belgium.

It is difficult to judge what the inside of the town hall was like before it was destroyed, but we can say with certainty that it is one of the best monuments of Renaissance architecture. The town hall was reconstructed in the 19th century under the direction of the architect Pierre Bruno Bourla. The facade of the building was restored completely, but the interiors still show an eclecticism, as if everyone who has ever been here tried to fill the rooms with their own ideas of beauty.

Among the strict Gothic houses of the main square of Antwerp the town hall stands out with its soft Flemish style lines. Today its facade is decorated with numerous gilded coats of arms, the lower part is decorated with red marble, while the upper part contrasts with the pale stone.

The town hall is decorated with statues of the Virgin Mary, Wisdom and Justice. Its peak stretches 50 meters upwards, sparkling now and then in the sun.

Coordinates : 51.22164200,4.39927000

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Scheldt River

The river Scheldt (photo)

The Scheldt or Esco is a river that flows through states such as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Its length is 430 kilometers and its basin area is 35.5 thousand square kilometers.

It is thanks to this great river, on which a commercial port was once built, that the city of Antwerp arose. If it had not brought ships laden with goods on its waves, perhaps these places would have been of no use to anyone. There would be no Old Town on its banks, no busy port, where ships of all kinds from many countries of the world still crowd, no romantic seagulls soaring over the water. The river in the Antwerp area is 450 meters wide and the average depth of the waterway is 10-15 meters. There are about seventy species of fish in its waters.

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Coordinates: 51.22373800,4.39734200

Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo in Antwerp (photo)

Every year, more than a million people from all over the world come to the Antwerp Zoo to see the curlewed pelicans, komodo varans, spectacled bears and many other animals and specimens, whose total number already exceeds 5,000. And the history of the zoo itself already counts more than 160 years, and during this time the Antwerp zoo has established itself as one of the best in the world, being in the top three.

It is noteworthy that together with its more than a century of history in the zoo is popular not only for the local inhabitants, but also for the buildings in which they live, because most of them have become historical monuments.

On the territory of the zoo, which has increased by almost 10 times and today has a total area of 10.5 hectares, there is a winter garden, a zoological museum, dens, oceanariums, there is also its own Temple of the Moors, where the okapi live, and in the Egyptian Temple giraffes, elephants and anoas rule.

A visit to the Antwerp Zoo will also take you to the “Land of the Frost,” where penguins and kalans will welcome you. Some adults here remember the French writer Emile Zola and his work “Island of Penguins”. And children come to admire the planetarium and dolphinarium, which are also located in the zoo.

Coordinates: 51.21578200,4.42276600

Rubens House

Rubens House (photo)

Rubens’ house was purchased by the master in 1611, after which construction work continued on the site for seven years. Years later, one of the artist’s friends openly declared that the house aroused not only amazement but also admiration among many foreigners arriving in Antwerp. It was on this estate that almost all of the author’s life was spent. His first son Nicholas was born, his beloved wife Isabella died during the plague. Later, married to his second wife, Helena Foorman, five more of their children were born here together.

Rubens’s house became city property in 1937, and in 1946 it was opened as a museum. Prior to that, extensive work was done to restore the building and the interior. Neither the artist’s personal belongings nor any household items have survived. One of the few valuable objects is a jug in the dining room, bearing the inscription “1593”. But the atmosphere of a patrician estate, typical of the XVII century, has been recreated with maximum precision.

The hall and most of the rooms are decorated with works of famous artists, who spent more than one evening with Rubens. Of particular note is also the master’s study, which during his lifetime was home to collections of works by Raphael, Titian, Bruegel and many others.

Coordinates: 51.21824200,4.40920500

MAS Museum

MAS Museum (photo)

The MAS Museum is a futuristic museum complex built on the site of an abandoned dock, opened to the public in 2011 after five years of construction. MAS stands for ‘Museum aan de Stroom’ and translates as ‘Museum on the River’. The building is indeed located on the river.

Therefore, it is not surprising that in addition to art exhibits, the museum houses the Museum of Shipping. The museum’s collection has more than 6,000 items, including archaeological finds from ancient America, works of stone, terracotta, jewelry and more. In addition to permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions are held on the third floor of the building. The museum building is bizarrely shaped and designed, extremely difficult to mistake, and therefore certainly worthy of a visit.

Museum opening hours:

Tues – Fri: 10 to 17

Saturday – Sunday: 10 to 18

Closed on Mondays and on major holidays: January 1, May 1 – Feast of Ascension, November 1 and December 25.

Coordinates: 51.22888900,4.40472200

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St. Charles Borromeo Church

St. Charles Borromeo Church (photo)

A Baroque church with a magnificent facade, built in Antwerp by the Jesuit order between 1615 and 1621. It is notable for the fact that the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens had a hand in decorating its facade and a large part of its interior.

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On July 18, 1718, lightning struck the church. This caused a massive fire that killed 39 of Rubens’ priceless masterpieces. Most of the original marbles were also destroyed. Only the apses of the main altar and the chapel of Mary have survived in their original form. They can be admired even now.

An interesting detail and attraction of the temple is the original mechanism that changes the paintings behind the altar. Since the XVII century, it remains in working order and operates to this day, which is very impressive for tourists and visitors to the temple.

Coordinates: 51.22101700,4.40473300

The most popular attractions in Antwerp with descriptions and photos for every taste. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Antwerp on our website.

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The 26 key sights of Antwerp in Belgium

Antwerp sights

Belgium, a country in the west of the European continent, has access to the North Sea of the Atlantic Ocean. It borders France and Luxembourg to the south, while to the north and west Belgium’s neighbors are Germany and the Netherlands. Antwerp has been known for centuries as one of the largest ports in Europe and the largest port in Belgium. There are many old buildings, architectural and historical sites. This city is famous for its art school, which belonged to Rubens, Jordaens, van Dyck.

Antwerp sights worth seeing in a day

Interesting places of the city of Antwerp are located at a fairly large distance from each other. But to see a few of them you can walk along the route “Grote Markt – Antwerp Zoo”. On and near the Grote Markt you will come across the City Hall, the Brabo Fountain, the Castle Wall, and the house of the butcher’s guild.

Walk a little further south and you will discover the Plantin Museum and the Fashion Museum. Then turn east to Meir Street and the Rubens House. There are stores scattered along the way, especially interesting ones in the Diamond Quarter.

Antwerp sights

The main square of the city covered with a veil of flowers.

When you leave the Plantin Museum, you can walk even further south. Here, on Kloosterstraat the Belgians have carefully erected a monument to our compatriot – Peter I himself. You can admire the way the people of Antwerp portrayed the great emperor from any angle.

If time permits, and you want to enjoy a beach holiday during the trip, you can go to the coast, for example in Ostend, stopping in Bruges and Ghent on the way.

Places to take beautiful pictures

Antwerp sights

One of the streets of the old town in Antwerp

The old city is lined with picturesque streets and beautiful castles. The photos are colorful and meaningful. The Grote Markt square with its famous Brabo Fountain is a stunning backdrop for the photos.

The castle walls with its fortresses and monuments is also a great place for a photo shoot. In Antwerp a photo in front of any architectural structure will be an unforgettable moment of the trip.

Antwerp sights

Christmas market in the city

How to get to the city

From Moscow to Antwerp you can get by air. There are regular flights from Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo. Antwerp Airport is located two kilometers from the city. You can leave the airport by bus or cab, if desired. You can also fly to the Belgian capital Brussels and from there take a bus to Antwerp.

Antwerp sights

View of the city at night from the riverbank

Despite the title of one of the largest ports in Europe, to get from our country to Belgium by sea is difficult: no one arranges cruises there and back because of the rather long distance.

Grote Markt

Perhaps Belgium no longer has such a stunning square as the Grote Markt. In the center is one of the city’s symbols, the Brabo Fountain. Sylvio Brabo is a young man who, according to a legend, in Roman times delivered the inhabitants of his neighborhood from the giant. For that, he is now mounted on top of a gigantic fountain. The square is surrounded by solid Gothic architecture: all the buildings around adhere to this architectural style. And in the evening the buildings around look even more beautiful.

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Antwerp City Hall

Antwerp City Hall decorated with the flags of different countries on the occasion of their meeting to solve common European issues

The town hall of Antwerp was built in the 16th century. Belgium was one of the centers of the Renaissance, and Antwerp has long been the trading capital of Europe. Not surprisingly, Antwerp City Hall is one of the best examples of the combination of Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. The city could afford it. The town hall is located in the famous Grote Markt, a square where all architecture is solid Gothic, which only adds to the admiration. Unfortunately, it is not possible to enter the town hall; there are people working there.

Guild Buildings

To the left of the Town Hall on Grote Markt are the Guild Houses. They were laid out at a time when wealth from all over the world began to flow into the city. It was in these buildings that craftsmen and merchants discussed their affairs and considered their next steps. Now they serve as a reminder of the city’s former glory and attract crowds of tourists. The guild houses are one of the most important details of the square. Narrow and tall, but figuratively simple, they are a living example of the Flemish architectural tradition.

Antwerp Central Station

Antwerp Central Station is another masterpiece of Belgian architecture. It was built in 1905, but it combines features of ancient classical styles. Station is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, it surpasses in many ways older buildings of the city. In contrast to the town hall, the station buildings, of course, can be entered. Although it is equipped according to modern standards inside, the interior does not get uglier.

The Castle Walls

This medieval castle is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The fortress used to be part of the city wall, then there was no point in such fortifications. Then there was a prison, and now there is a seafaring museum with ship models and stories of Belgian sea triumphs. In front of the entrance to the castle is a monument to the Antwerp folklore hero, the giant Long Wapper, who liked to terrorize the townsfolk.


Sterckshof Castle (named after the founder of the estate, Gerard Sterck) is the central landmark of the Antwerp suburbs. The huge castle was first the residence of the wealthy Sterkshof, then they abandoned it. After them the castle was “inherited” by the Jesuit order. Since the 20s of the 20th century the castle belongs to the authorities of Antwerp. The building is huge, they tried to place various collections in it, to organize a museum. Since 2014, it has been empty, but visitors are still allowed in from time to time.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp

The Catholic cathedral was founded back in the 14th century and almost miraculously survived the wrath of time. Like all Catholic cathedrals, it is striking in its grandeur, aesthetics and majesty. The church, of course, is built in the Gothic style. It is possible to go inside, but you should do it carefully, as services are still going on in the church. To see the temple from the inside, however, is a must. It is inside the Gothic cathedrals reveal the depth of their architectural subtext.

Church of St. James

The church may not be enthralling when you look at it from the outside. It is surrounded by buildings that don’t match it, and sometimes it can look simply gray and dull. But the interior of the temple can no doubt be called delightful. Snow-white trim, lots of ornate columns, sculptures. The church is still holding rites and services, so it is worth refraining from visiting the temple on Sunday. Unless, of course, you want to join the mass.

Church of St. Paul

The exterior of the church is solid Gothic with some Baroque splashes. But despite the appearance of the church, the interior is richly decorated and almost overwhelms the visitor with decorations. The temple inside is decorated baroque style. It somewhat confuses the visitor who is already used to seeing geometry, columns and austerity in a Gothic temple. Yes, there are columns, but along with them inside the temple there are many sculptures, statues, stained glass, marble in various forms. The altar even houses one of Rubens’ paintings.

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St. Andrew’s Church

Although all 4 of Antwerp’s main churches are Roman Catholic, they are all different. While the Cathedral of Our Lady is a classic Gothic temple, the Church of St. Andrew is simple and clear in its exterior and rich in Baroque elements inside. The interior of the temple is rich in decorations, as are all Baroque churches. Tourists, however, are often interested in other things. The pastor of the church often personally decorates the temple in works of modern design art. This is very intriguing and interesting to parishioners and tourists because it is completely out of tune with the primness of the Catholic Church.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts

Take a closer look at the works of famous Belgian artists, many of whom lived in Antwerp, in the Museum of Fine Arts. There are paintings by famous artists van Eyck, van Dyck, Masseys, de Bie, Patiniere, Ensor as well as foreign painters. Among them are Titian, Fouquet, as well as many others. The museum is particularly dedicated to the development of Belgian artistic history and the works of Flemish and Walloon artists.

Plantin-Maretus Museum.

The museum was a printing works from the 16th century until the second half of the 19th century. In addition to ancient printing presses and a large library of 30,000 books (many of which are quite ancient), historians have found here an invaluable archive with the owners’ records. The archive and the accounting records give us an insight into what economic life was like in Flanders and Antwerp since the 16th century.

Fashion Museum

The Fashion Museum, or MoMu, is also a historical museum. But its collection does not represent the history of culture or military craftsmanship. Here you’ll find a collection of clothes Antwerp residents wore throughout the centuries. Thanks to the museum, the average person can imagine what the well-off people of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries looked like. Naturally, modern compositions from designers of the 21st century are not ignored either.

Photography Museum

The collection of photographs in this museum has been collected over many years. Visitors can see what the Belgians did at different times, from the invention of the camera to the present day, through the prism of images. Not only fragments of historical photography, but also photographs of ordinary people are presented. You can look at it during a walk, especially since the entrance is free.

Meyer van der Berg Museum

The museum collection was built with private money. Fritz Meyer van der Berg decided to collect under one roof all the paintings that he can reach. And so the museum appeared. Especially numerous are works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. To emphasize the entourage of antiquity, the house for the museum was also van der Berg built on a model of the houses of the 16th century.

Flemish streetcar and bus museum

The specialization of the museum does not sound too solid. But the curious tourist will also find a lot of interesting information in the bus museum. Studying history through textbooks is rather boring, it’s true. But it’s interesting to see what the Belgians rode from the 18th to the 19th century. Considering that there’s a lot to see. The museum collection includes streetcar cars, old electric and steam streetcars, and even a gyrobus (the only preserved one in the world).

MAS Museum

This museum houses several collections: a collection related to the shipping industry, an art collection, as well as several private collections (for example, archaeological). But the museum building is no less interesting. Red sandstone alternates with fragments of ribbed bluish glass. The building looks like a large constructor figure and is noticed from afar.

Rubens House

The house where one of the most famous Belgians in history, the painter Peter Paul Rubens, lived is now a museum of his creations. The house also stands out from an architectural point of view. It is difficult to attribute the buildings to any style, but there are many antique motifs. Marble, busts of great men, arches. Rubens even had an entire circular marble hall with busts around the perimeter and a large sunny window in the center of the dome above.

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The House of Rococs.

Paintings by famous Belgian painters were for the most part dispersed among museums and collectors’ houses. Many paintings by great artists also found a home in the house of Nicolas Rokox, patron of the arts and burgomaster of Antwerp. The 17th-century house contains paintings by Jordaens, Matthäus, van Dyck and other artists as well as pleasant surroundings. If some people prefer to walk around ancient houses looking at paintings rather than crowding into museums, then the Rocox House is the choice of just such individuals.

Butchers Guild House

You wouldn’t expect any revelations from a house where butchers gather in the evenings and think about how best to run their businesses. But apparently the butchers of Antwerp were men of taste. The building is not far from the Grote Markt and looks more like a castle. Red brick alternates with layers of white brick, obviously showing that the people inside are very fond of meat. Meat can be found in a nearby cafe, but you can soak up the spirit of antiquity around and inside the building. Fortunately, it is perfectly preserved.

Antwerp Zoo

The Antwerp Zoo contains about 1,000 species and 5,000 animals. It is considered one of the most beautiful and well-appointed zoos in the world, so it obviously has many visitors. But there are enough animals for everyone, for inside the zoo there are more than 15 areas holding various animals: from goats to endangered monkeys and parrots. It is perfect to take a child to visit, but even adults will find something to occupy them as well.

Meir Street

Meir Street is an analogue of Khreshchatyk or Arbat. On the street is located and the residence of the King, and the residence of Rubens, a lot of boutiques and stores. Monuments and works of modern art. Store windows and stunning architecture can be viewed without fear of gazing and not seeing a passing car – the alley is free of traffic.

The Diamond Quarter

Antwerp is famous not only for its artists and architecture, but also as the diamond processing center of Europe. Diamond workshops are concentrated in this area near the zoo. Nearly 400 stores with more than 10 thousand artisans work here to meet the needs of jewelry and gemstone lovers. The diamond is a peculiar symbol of the neighborhood – T-shirts and candy with diamonds are also available.

Port of Antwerp

You can’t talk about Antwerp without mentioning the port. The city’s port is the reason why it exists and one of the city government’s main sources of income. There’s nothing architecturally ingenious about it, no diamonds are sold here, but it’s really fascinating to watch the ships moving back and forth. The main thing is to find a place where the screams of the workers don’t spoil the atmosphere. The port is gorgeous especially at night under the light of the moon and lanterns.

Middelheim Park

Middelheim Park is actually a sculpture museum. But it’s so quiet and peaceful that the sculptures are more of an addition to a peaceful stroll. There are no crowds of gawkers like other museums, and the museum is set up in the open air. Thus, two of the museums’ biggest problems – crowding and stuffiness – evaporate at once. The sculptures are by contemporary artists. They are interesting, full of energy and sometimes incomprehensible. But they are nevertheless quite fascinating and, frankly speaking, beautiful.

Maiden’s House

The Maiden’s House was an orphanage until the 1980s in the 19th century. It combines features of all the landmarks characteristic of Antwerp – 16th- and 17th-century architecture, a museum on the first floor, paintings by Rubens, van Dyck and others. Ironically, the house is now home to social service workers.

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