Antwerp Wikipedia

For other uses, see Antwerp (disambiguation).

Municipality of Belgium
Antwerp riverfront, april 2012.jpg
Flag of Antwerp

Coat of arms of Antwerp

Coat of arms

Antwerp is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Coordinates: 51°13′N 04°24′E / 51.217°N 4.400°E / 51.217; 4.400Coordinates: 51°13′N 04°24′E / 51.217°N 4.400°E / 51.217; 4.400
CommunityFlemish Community
RegionFlemish Region
 • Mayor (list)Bart De Wever (N-VA)
 • Governing party/ies1. N-VA

2. CD&V

3. Open Vld
 • Total204.51 km2 (78.96 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2012)
 • Total502,604
 • Density2,500/km2 (6,400/sq mi)
Postal codes2000–2660
Area codes03

Foreground: Statue of the giant's hand being thrown into the Scheldt River. Background: Town hall

The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of our Lady) and the Scheldt river.

Grote Markt
Antwerp (Listeni/ˈæntwɜrp/, Dutch: Antwerpen [ˈɑn̪t̪.β̞ɛr.pə(n̪)] ( listen), French: Anvers [ɑ̃ˈvɛʁs]) is a city and municipality in Belgium and the capital of the Antwerp province of Belgium. Antwerp's population is 512,000 (as of 1 January 2013), making it the second most populous city in Belgium, after the capital Brussels, which has around 1.2 million inhabitants. Antwerp's total area is 204.51 km2 (78.96 sq mi), giving a population density of 2,308 inhabitants per km². The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,449 km2 (559 sq mi) with a total of 1,190,769 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008. The French name of Antwerp is Anvers [ɑ̃vɛʁ(s)]; it may be found written this way on signposts in French-speaking regions of Belgium and in French-language publications.

Antwerp is located on the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary. The city has one of the largest seaports in Europe. Antwerp has long been an important city in the Low Countries, both economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Fury (1576) in the period of the Dutch Revolt. The inhabitants of Antwerp are locally nicknamed Sinjoren, after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, "lord". It refers to the leading Spanish noblemen who ruled the city during the 17th century.



                See also: Timeline of Antwerp

                Origin of the name

                According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend involving a mythical giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river. He exacted a toll from those crossing the river, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan (to throw), which has evolved to today's warp.

                In favour of this folk etymology is the fact that hand-cutting was indeed practised in Europe; the right hand of a man who died without issue was cut off and sent to the feudal lord as proof of main-morte. However, John Lothrop Motley argues that Antwerp's name derives from an 't werf (on the wharf). Aan 't werp (at the warp) is also possible. This "warp" (thrown ground) is a man-made hill, just high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a farm would be built. Another word for werp is pol (hence polders).

                The prevalent theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpia would come from Ante (before) Verpia (deposition, sedimentation), indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river (which is in fact the same origin as Germanic waerpen). Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 to 750, followed a different track. This must have coincided roughly with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river.


                Historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus civilization. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952–1961 (ref. Princeton), produced pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-2nd century to the end of the 3rd century.

                In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named, having been settled by the Germanic Franks. The name was reputed to have been derived from "anda" (at) and "werpum" (wharf).

                The Merovingian Antwerp, now fortified, was evangelized by Saint Amand in the 7th century. At the end of the 10th century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate, a border province facing the County of Flanders.

                In the 11th century Godfrey of Bouillon was for some years known as the marquis of Antwerp. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was also the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, was born there in 1338.

                16th century

                After the silting up of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, gained in importance. At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the English nation is specifically mentioned in 1510. Antwerp became the sugar capital of Europe, importing product from Portuguese and Spanish plantations. The city attracted Italian and German sugar refiners by 1550, and shipped their refined product to Germany, especially Cologne. Moneylenders and financiers did a large business loaning money to the English government in the 1544–1574 period. London bankers were too small to operate on that scale, and Antwerp had a highly efficient bourse that itself attracted rich bankers from around Europe. After the 1570s the city's banking business declined; England ended its borrowing in Antwerp in 1574.

                Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the centre of the entire international economy, something Bruges had never been even at its height." Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. Antwerp's golden age is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". Over the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second-largest European city north of the Alps by 1560s with some 200,000 people. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Francesco Guicciardini, the Venetian envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2,000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepper and cinnamon would unload their cargo. According to Luc-Normand Tellier "It is estimated that the port of Antwerp was earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas."

                Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very cosmopolitan, with merchants and traders from Venice, Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large orthodox Jewish community. Antwerp was not a "free" city though, since it had been reabsorbed into the Duchy of Brabant in 1406 and was controlled from Brussels.

                Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age: The first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, in 1559, based on the textiles industry. At the beginning of the 16th century Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade. The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers. In the century after 1541, however, the city's economy and population declined dramatically, while rival Amsterdam experienced massive growth.

                The religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Low Countries. The regent Margaret, Duchess of Parma, was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alba at the head of an army the following summer. When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1568, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao collapsed and became impossible. On 4 November 1576, Spanish soldiers plundered the city during the so-called Spanish Fury; 7,000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over 2 million sterling of damage was done.

                Subsequently,the city joined the Union of Utrecht in 1579 and became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siege and as part of the terms of surrender its Protestant citizens were given two years to settle their affairs before quitting the city. Most went to the United Provinces in the north, starting the Dutch Golden Age. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa, and Amsterdam became the new trading centre.

                17th–19th centuries

                Map of Antwerp (1624)

                Antwerp and the river Scheldt, photochrom ca. 1890–1900
                The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the Treaty of Münster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldt should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities. This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815 to 1830). Antwerp had reached the lowest point of its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned two million[clarification needed] to enlarge the harbour by constructing two docks and a mole and deepening the Scheldt to allow for larger ships to approach Antwerp. Napoleon hoped that by making Antwerp's harbour the finest in Europe he would be able to counter London's harbour and stint British growth, but he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo before he could see the plan through.

                In 1830, the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time Chassé subjected the town to periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by a French army. During this attack the town was further damaged. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender.

                Later that century, a ring of fortresses was constructed some 10 km (6 mi) from the city centre, as Antwerp was considered vital for the survival of the young Belgian state. And in the last decade Antwerp presented itself to the world via a World's Fair attended by 3 million.

                20th century

                Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903. During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. The Siege of Antwerp lasted for 11 days, but the city was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westwards. Antwerp remained under German occupation until the Armistice.

                Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. During World War II, the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division on 4 September 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. Thousands of Rheinbote, V-1 and V-2 missiles battered the city. The city was hit by more V-2s than all other targets during the entire war combined, but the attack did not succeed in destroying the port since many of the missiles fell upon other parts of the city. As a result, the city itself was severely damaged and rebuilt after the war in a modern style. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizeable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European centre of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.

                Ryckewaert argued for the importance of the Ten-Year Plan for the port of Antwerp (1956–1965). It expanded and modernized the port's infrastructure over a 10-year period, with national funding, intended to build a set of canal docks. The broader importance was to facilitate the growth of the north-eastern Antwerp metropolitan region, which attracted new industry. Extending the linear layout along the Scheldt River, planners designed further urbanization along the same linear city model. Satellite communities would be connected to the main strip. Ryckewaert, argues that in contrast to the more confused Europoort plan for the port of Rotterdam, the Antwerp approach succeeded because of flexible and strategic implementation of the project as a co-production between various authorities and private parties.

                Starting in the 1990s, Antwerp rebranded itself as a world-class fashion centre. Emphasizing the avant-garde, it tried to compete with London, Milan, New York and Paris. It emerged from organized tourism and mega-cultural events.


                Districts of Antwerp.
                Main article: Districts of Antwerp
                The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. It is divided into nine entities (districts):
                1. Antwerp
                2. Berchem
                3. Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo
                4. Borgerhout
                5. Deurne
                6. Ekeren
                7. Hoboken
                8. Merksem
                9. Wilrijk

                Buildings, landmarks and museums

                Antwerp City Hall at the Grote Markt (Main Square).

                16th-century Guildhouses at the Grote Markt.

                The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of our Lady), here seen from the Groenplaats, is the highest cathedral in the Low Countries and home to several triptychs by Baroque painter Rubens. It remains the tallest building in the city.

                Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand

                Antwerp lawcourts

                Museum aan de Stroom
                In the 16th century, Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens ("Antwerpia nummis"); the houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic League on the northern quays in 1891. The city also suffered considerable war damage by V-bombs, and in recent years other noteworthy buildings were demolished for new developments.
                • Antwerp Zoo was founded in 1843, and is home to more than 6,000 animals (about 769 species). One of the oldest zoos in the world, it is renowned for its high level of research and conservation.
                • Central Station is a railway station designed by Louis Delacenserie that was completed in 1905. It has two monumental neo-baroque façades, a large metal and glass dome (60m/197 ft) and a gilt and marble interior
                • Cathedral of Our Lady. This church was begun in the 14th century and finished in 1518. The church has four works by Rubens, viz. "The Descent from the Cross", "The Elevation of the Cross", "The Resurrection of Christ" and "The Assumption"
                • St. James' Church, is more ornate than the cathedral. It contains the tomb of Rubens
                • The Church of St. Paul has a beautiful baroque interior. It is a few hundred yards north of the Grote Markt
                • Museum Vleeshuis (Butchers' Hall) is a fine Gothic brick-built building sited a short distance to the North-West of the Grote Markt. Originally used as a home for the Butchers Guild these days it holds a musical instrument collection (including some original Ruckers harpsichords) and is home to occasional concerts.
                • Plantin-Moretus Museum preserves the house of the printer Christoffel Plantijn and his successor Jan Moretus
                • The Saint-Boniface Church is an Anglican church and headseat of the archdeanery North-West Europe.
                • Boerentoren (Farmers' Tower) or KBC Tower, a 26-storey building built in 1932, is the oldest skyscraper in Europe
                • Royal Museum of Fine Arts, close to the southern quays, has a collection of old masters (Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian) and the leading Dutch masters.
                • Rubenshuis is the former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in Antwerp. It is now a museum.
                • Exchange or Bourse. The current building was built in 1872.
                • Law Courts, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, Arup and VK Studio, and opened by King Albert in April 2006. This building is the antithesis of the heavy, dark court building designed by Joseph Poelaert that dominates the skyline of Brussels. The courtrooms sit on top of six fingers that radiate from an airy central hall, and are surmounted by spires which provide north light and resemble oast houses or the sails of barges on the nearby River Scheldt. It is built on the site of the old Zuid ("South") station, at the end of a magnificent 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) perspective at the southern end of Amerikalei. The road neatly disappears into an underpass under oval Bolivarplaats to join the motorway ring. This leaves peaceful surface access by foot, bicycle or tram (route 12). The building's highest 'sail' is 51 m (167.32 ft) high, has a floor area of 77,000 m2 (828,821.10 sq ft), and cost €130 million.
                • Zurenborg, a late 19th century belle époque neighbourhood on the border of Antwerp and Berchem with many art nouveau architectural elements. The area counts as one of the most original belle époque urban expansion areas in Europe. Though the houses in the neighbourhood are listed as national heritage, they suffer severely from vibration and pollution caused by heavy city bus traffic through its streets, especially through the famous Cogels Osylei.
                • Museum aan de Stroom The MAS is 60 metres high, and was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. The façade is made of Indian red sandstone and curved glass panel construction. The MAS houses 470,000 objects, most of which are kept in storage.


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                Het Steen (literally: 'The Stone').
                Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, nothing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel defended by General Chassé in 1832, except for the Steen, which has been restored. Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications. After the establishment of Belgian independence, Antwerp was defended by the citadel and an enceinte around the city. In 1859, seventeen of the twenty-two fortresses constructed under Wellington's supervision in 1815–1818 were dismantled and the old citadel and enceinte were removed. A new enceinte 8 miles (13 km) long was constructed, and the villages of Berchem and Borgerhout, now boroughs of Antwerp, were absorbed within the city.

                This enceinte is protected by a broad wet ditch, and in the caponiers are the magazines and store chambers of the fortress. The enceinte has nineteen openings or gateways, but of these seven are not used by the public. As soon as the enceinte was finished eight detached forts from 2 to 2.5 miles (3.2 to 4.0 kilometres) from the enceinte were constructed. They begin on the north near Wijnegem and the zone of inundation, and terminate on the south at Hoboken. In 1870 Fort Merksem and the redoubts of Berendrecht and Oorderen were built for the defence of the area to be inundated north of Antwerp.

                In the 1870s, the fortifications of Antwerp were deemed to be out of date, given the increased range and power of artillery and explosives. Antwerp was transformed into a fortified position by constructing an outer line of forts and batteries 6 to 9 miles (14 km) from the enceinte.


                Historical population

                Population time-line of Antwerp.
                This is the population of the city of Antwerp only, not of the larger current municipality of the same name.
                • 1374: 18,000
                • 1486: 40,000
                • 1500: around 44/49,000 inhabitants
                • 1526: 50,000
                • 1567: 105,000 (90,000 permanent residents and 15,000 "floating population", including foreign merchants and soldiers. At the time only 10 cities in Europe reached this size.)
                • 1568: Around 200,000.
                • 1575: around 100,000 (after the Inquisition)
                • 1584: 84,000 (after the Spanish Fury, the French Fury and the Calvinist republic)
                • 1586 (May): 60,000 (after siege)
                • 1586 (October): 50,000
                • 1591: 46,000
                • 1612: 54,000
                • 1620: 66,000 (Twelve Years' Truce)
                • 1640: 54,000 (after the Black Death epidemics)
                • 1700: 66,000
                • 1765: 40,000
                • 1784: 51,000
                • 1800: 45,500
                • 1815: 54,000
                • 1830: 73,500
                • 1856: 111,700
                • 1880: 179,000
                • 1900: 275,100
                • 1925: 308,000
                • 1959: 260,000
                In 2010, 36 to 39% of the inhabitants of Antwerp had a migrant background. A study projects that in 2020 55% of the population will be of migrant background.
                Antwerp-population per district 2012

                Minority communities

                Main articles: Jewish Community of Antwerp and Jainism in Belgium

                Jain temple in Antwerp.
                After the Holocaust and the destruction of its many semi-assimilated Jews, Antwerp became a major centre for Orthodox Jews. At present, about 15,000 Haredi Jews, many of them Hasidic, live in Antwerp. The city has three official Jewish Congregations: Shomrei Hadass, headed by Rabbi Dovid Moishe Lieberman, Machsike Hadass, headed by Rabbi Aharon Schiff (formerly by Chief Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth) and the Portuguese Community Ben Moshe. Antwerp has an extensive network of synagogues, shops, schools and organizations, within the Machsike Hadas community. Significant Hasidic movements in Antwerp include Pshevorsk, based in Antwerp, as well as branches of Satmar, Belz, Bobov, Ger, Skver, Klausenburg and several others. Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, chief rabbi of the Machsike Hadas community, who died in 2003, was arguably one of the better known personalities to have been based in Antwerp. An attempt to have a street named after him has received the support of the Town Hall and is in the process of being implemented.[citation needed]

                The Jain community in Antwerp is mostly involved in the very lucrative diamond business.


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                Terminal at the Port of Antwerp.
                According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the port of Antwerp was the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only to Rotterdam in Europe. Importantly it handles high volumes of economically attractive general and project cargo, as well as bulk cargo. Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houston, Texas. Electricity generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doel, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants. There is a wind farm in the northern part of the port area. There are plans to extend this in the period 2014-2020. The old Belgian bluestone quays bordering the Scheldt for a distance of 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the north and south of the city centre have been retained for their sentimental value and are used mainly by cruise ships and short-sea shipping.[citation needed]

                Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade that takes place largely within the diamond district. The city has four diamond bourses: one for bort and three for gem quality goods. Since World War II families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indian traders become increasingly important. Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry.[citation needed]

                VLM Airlines has its head office on the grounds of Antwerp International Airport in Deurne, Antwerp; the office is also CityJet's Antwerp office. When VG Airlines (Delsey Airlines) existed, its head office was in Merksem, Antwerp.



                A six lane motorway bypass encircles much of the city centre and runs through the urban residential area of Antwerp. Known locally as the "Ring" it offers motorway connections to Brussels, Hasselt and Liège, Ghent, Lille and Bruges and Breda and Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands). The banks of the Scheldt are linked by three road tunnels (in order of construction): the Waasland Tunnel (1934), the Kennedy Tunnel (1967) and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel (1991). Daily congestion on the Ring led to a fourth high volume highway link called the "Oosterweelconnection" being proposed. It would entail the construction of a long viaduct and bridge (the Lange Wapper) over the docks on the north side of the city in combination of a widening of the existing motorway into a 14 lane motorway. Eventually the plans were rejected in a public referendum in 2009, thus causing further delays. In September 2010 the Flemish Government decided to replace the bridge by a series of tunnels. There are ideas to cover the Ring in a similar way as happened around Paris, Hamburg, Madrid and other cities. This would reconnect the city with its suburbs and would provide development opportunities to accommodate part of the foreseen population growth in Antwerp which currently are not possible because of the pollution and noise generated by the traffic on the Ring. An old plan to build an R2 outer ring road outside the built up urban area around the Antwerp agglomeration for port related traffic and transit traffic never materialized.


                Antwerp Central Station
                Antwerp is the focus of lines to the north to Essen and the Netherlands, east to Turnhout, south to Mechelen, Brussels and Charleroi, and southwest to Ghent and Ostend. It is served by international trains to Amsterdam and Paris, and national trains to Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Brussels, Charleroi, Hasselt, Liège, Leuven and Turnhout.

                Antwerp Central station is an architectural monument in itself, and is mentioned in W G Sebald's haunting novel Austerlitz. Prior to the completion in 2007 of a tunnel that runs northwards under the city centre to emerge at the old Antwerp Dam station, Central was a terminus. Trains from Brussels to the Netherlands had to either reverse at Central or call only at Berchem station, 2 kilometres (1 mile) to the south, and then describe a semicircle to the east, round the Singel. Now, they call at the new lower level of the station before continuing in the same direction.

                Antwerp is also home to Antwerpen-Noord, the largest classification yard for freight in Belgium and second largest in Europe. The majority of freight trains in Belgium depart from or arrive here. It has two classification humps and over a hundred tracks.

                City transportation

                The city has a web of tram and bus lines operated by De Lijn and providing access to the city centre, suburbs and the Left Bank. The tram network has 12 lines, of which the underground section is called the "premetro" and includes a tunnel under the river.


                Antwerp International Airport is in the district of Deurne. CityJet flies to London-City. The airport is connected by bus to the city centre. Brussels Airport is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from the city of Antwerp, and connects the city worldwide. Brussels Airport is connected by bus and by train to the city centre of Antwerp. The new Diabolo rail connection provides a direct fast train connection between Antwerp and Brussels Airport as of the Summer of 2012. There is also a direct rail service between Antwerp and Charleroi, home to Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which runs every hour.


                Former mayors

                In the early years after the Belgian independence, Antwerp was gouverned by Catholic-Unionist mayors. Between 1848 and 1921, all mayors were from the Liberal Party (with the exception of the so-called Meeting-intermezzo between 1863 and 1872). Between 1921 and 1932, the city had a Catholic mayor again: Frans Van Cauwelaert. From 1932 onwards (and up till 2013) all mayors were belonging to the Social Democrat party: Camille Huysmans, Lode Craeybeckx, Frans Detiège and Mathilde Schroyens, and after the municipality fusion: Bob Cools, Leona Detiège en Patrick Janssens. Since 2013 the mayor is the Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, belonging to the Flemish separatist party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance).


                One of the many Marian statues which feature on Antwerp street corners
                Antwerp had an artistic reputation in the 17th century, based on its school of painting, which included Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, the two Teniers and many others.

                Informally, most Antverpians (in Dutch Antwerpenaren, people from Antwerp) daily speak Antverpian (in Dutch Antwerps), a dialect that Dutch-speakers know as distinctive from other Brabantic dialects through its typical vowel pronunciations: approximating the vowel sound in 'bore' – for one of its long 'a'-sounds while other short 'a's are very sharp like the vowel sound in 'hat'. The Echt Antwaarps Teater ("Authentic Antverpian Theatre") brings the dialect on stage.


                Antwerp is a rising fashion city, and has produced designers such as the Antwerp Six. The city has a cult status in the fashion world, due to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important fashion academies in Europe. It has served as the learning centre for a large number of Belgian fashion designers. Since the 1980s, several graduates of the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts have become internationally successful fashion designers in Antwerp. The city has had a huge influence on other Belgian fashion designers such as Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho, Olivier Theyskens and Kris Van Assche.

                Local products

                Antwerp is famous for its local products. In August every year the Bollekesfeest takes place. The Bollekesfeest is a showcase for such local products as Bolleke, an amber beer from the De Koninck Brewery. The Mokatine sweets made by Confiserie Roodthooft, Elixir D'Anvers, a locally made liquor, locally roasted coffee from Koffie Verheyen, sugar from Candico, Poolster pickled herring and Equinox horse meat, are other examples of local specialities. One of the most known products of the city are its biscuits, the Antwerpse Handjes, literally "Antwerp Hands". Usually made from a short pastry with almonds or milk chocolate, they symbolize the Antwerp trademark and folklore. The local products are represented by a non-profit organization, Streekproducten Provincie Antwerpen vzw.[citation needed]

                Missions to seafarers

                A number of Christian missions to seafarers are based in Antwerp, notably on the Italiëlei. These include the Mission to Seafarers, British & International Sailors' Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, the Norwegian Sjømannskirken and the Apostleship of the Sea. They provide cafeterias, cultural and social activities as well as religious services.


                Official poster of the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp.
                Antwerp held the 1920 Summer Olympics, which were the first games after the First World War and also the only ones to be held in Belgium. The road cycling events took part in the streets of the city.

                Royal Antwerp F.C., currently playing in the Belgian Second Division, were founded in 1880 and is known as 'The Great Old' for being the first club registered to the Royal Belgian Football Association in 1895. Since 1998, the club has taken Manchester United players on loan in an official partnership. Another club in the city was Beerschot AC, founded in 1899 by former Royal Antwerp players. They played at the Olympisch Stadion, the main venue of the 1920 Olympics, and folded in May 2013 due to financial problems.

                The Antwerp Giants play in Basketball League Belgium and Topvolley Antwerpen play in the Belgium men's volleyball League.

                For the year 2013, Antwerp was awarded the title of European Capital of Sport.

                Antwerp hosted the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

                Antwerp will host the start of stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France on 6 July 2015.

                Higher education

                Main building of the Middelheim campus at the University of Antwerp.
                Antwerp has a university and several colleges. The University of Antwerp (Universiteit Antwerpen) was established in 2003, following the merger of the RUCA, UFSIA and UIA institutes. Their roots go back to 1852. The University has approximately 13,000 registered students, making it the third-largest university in Flanders, as well as 1,800 foreign students. It has 7 faculties, and is located of four campus locations in the city centre and in the south of the city. Education is organized on bachelor, masters, and post-graduate level.

                The city has several colleges, including Charlemagne University College (Karel de Grote Hogeschool), Plantin University College (Plantijn Hogeschool), and Artesis University College (Artesis Hogeschool). Artesis University College has about 8,600 students and 1,600 staff, and Charlemagne University College has about 10,000 students and 1,300 staff. Plantin University College has approximately 3,700 students.

                International relations

                See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Belgium

                Twin towns — sister cities

                The following places are twinned with or sister cities to Antwerp:
                • Netherlands Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 1940
                • France Mulhouse, France, 1954
                • Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1958
                • Germany Rostock, Germany,1963
                • China Shanghai, China, 1984
                • Turkey Akhisar, Turkey, 1988
                • Israel Haifa, Israel, 1995
                • South Africa Cape Town, South Africa, 1996
                • Spain Barcelona, Spain, 1997
                • Germany Ludwigshafen, Germany, 1998


                Within the context of development cooperation, Antwerp is also linked to
                • Suriname Paramaribo, Suriname
                • South Africa Durban, South Africa

                Notable people

                Main article: Notable people from Antwerp

                Born in Antwerp

                Abraham Ortelius.

                Hendrik Conscience
                • Bernoulli family, renowned family of mathematicians and physicists
                • Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III of England (1338–1368)
                • Samuel Blommaert, Director of the Dutch West India Company (1583–1654)
                • Frans Floris, painter (1520–1570)
                • Abraham Ortelius, cartographer and geographer (1527–98)
                • Gillis van Coninxloo, painter of forest landscapes (1544–1607)
                • Bartholomeus Spranger, painter, draughtsman, and etcher (1546–1611)
                • Martín Antonio del Río, Jesuit theologian (1551–1608)
                • Matthijs Bril, landscape painter (1550–1583)
                • Paul Bril, landscape painter (1554–1626)
                • Willem Usselincx, Flemish merchant and investor, one of the founders of the Dutch West India Company (1567–1647)
                • Abraham Janssens, painter (c. 1570–1632)
                • Rodrigo Calderón, Count of Oliva, Spanish favourite and adventurer (d. 1621)
                • Frans Snyders, still life and animal painter (1579–1657)
                • Frans Hals, painter (1580–1666)
                • Caspar de Crayer, painter (1582–1669)
                • David Teniers the Elder, painter (1582–1649)
                • Jacob Jordaens, painter (1593–1678)
                • Anthony van Dyck, painter (1599–1641)
                • David Teniers the Younger, painter (1610–1690)
                • Jan Fyt, animal painter (1611–1661)
                • Jacob Leyssens, Baroque painter (1661-1710)
                • Nicolaes Maes, Baroque painter (1634–1693)
                • Hendrik Abbé, engraver, painter and architect (1639-?)
                • Gerard Edelinck, copperplate engraver (1649–1707)
                • Peter Tillemans, painter (c. 1684–1734)
                • John Michael Rysbrack, sculptor (1694–1770)
                • Hendrik Conscience, writer and author of De Leeuw van Vlaanderen ("The Lion of Flanders") (1812–1883)
                • Johann Coaz, Swiss forester, topographer and mountaineer (1822–1918)
                • Georges Eekhoud, novelist (1854–1927)
                • Hippolyte Delehaye, Jesuit Priest and hagiographic scholar (1859–1941)
                • Ferdinand Perier, Jesuit Priest and 3rd Archbishop of Calcutta (1875–1968)
                • Willem Elsschot, writer and poet (1882–1960)
                • Constant Permeke, expressionist painter (1886–1952)
                • Paul van Ostaijen, poet and writer (1896–1928)
                • Albert Lilar, Minister of Justice (1900–1976)
                • Maurice Gilliams, writer (1900–1982)
                • André Cluytens, conductor (1905–1967)
                • Daniel Sternefeld, composer and conductor (1905–1986)
                • Maurice van Essche, Belgian-born South African painter (1906–1977)
                • Antoinette Feuerwerker, French jurist and member of the Resistance (1912–2003)
                • Karl Gotch, professional wrestler (1924–2007)
                • Simon Kornblit, American advertising and film studio executive (1933–2010)
                • Bernard de Walque, architect (1938–)
                • Paul Buysse, businessman (1945–)
                • Carl Verbraeken, composer (1950–)
                • Tom Barman, Belgian musician and film director. (1972-)
                • Tia Hellebaut, Olympic high jump champion (1978–)
                • Evi Goffin, vocalist (1981–)
                • Jessica Van Der Steen, model (1984–)
                • Ferre Grignard, Rock Singer/songwriter. Known for "Ring Ring, I've Got To Sing" (1939-1982)
                • Laetitia Beck, Israeli golfer (1992-)

                Lived in Antwerp

                Wenceslas Hollar.
                • Abraham Mayer, German-born physiscian (1848)
                • Quentin Matsys, Renaissance painter, founder of the Antwerp school (1466–1530)
                • Jan Mabuse, painter (c. 1478–1532)
                • Joachim Patinir, landscape and religious painter (c. 1480–1524)
                • John Rogers, Christian minister, Bible translator and commentator, and martyr (c. 1500–1555)
                • Joos van Cleve, painter (c. 1500–1540/41)
                • Damião de Góis, Portuguese humanist philosopher (1502–1574)
                • Sir Thomas Gresham, English merchant and financier (c. 1519–1579)
                • Sir Anthony More, portrait painter (1520 – c. 1577)
                • Christoffel Plantijn, humanist, book printer and publisher (c. 1520–1589)
                • Pieter Brueghel the Elder, painter and printmaker (1525–1569)
                • Philip van Marnix, writer and statesman (1538–1598)
                • Simon Stevin, mathematician and engineer (c. 1548/49 – 1620)
                • John Bull, English/Welsh composer, musician, and organ builder (c. 1562–1628)
                • Jan Brueghel the Elder, also known as "Velvet" Brueghel, painter (1568–1625)
                • Pieter Paul Rubens, painter (1577–1640)
                • William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, English soldier, politician, and writer (c. 1592–1676)
                • Adriaen Brouwer, painter (1605–1638)
                • Jan Davidszoon de Heem, painter (1606–1684)
                • Wenceslas Hollar, Bohemian etcher (1607–1677)
                • Jan Lievens, painter (1607–1674)
                • Ferdinand van Apshoven the Younger, painter (1630?–1694)
                • Frédéric Théodore Faber, painter (1782–1799)
                • Jan Frans Willems, writer (1793–1846)
                • Henri Alexis Brialmont, military engineer (1821–1903)
                • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, painter (1836–1912)
                • Vincent van Gogh, impressionist painter, lived in Antwerp for about four months (1853–1890)
                • Camille Huysmans, Socialist politician, former mayor of Antwerp and former Prime Minister of Belgium (1871–1968)
                • Moshe Yitzchok Gewirtzman, leader of the Hasidic Pshevorsk movement based in Antwerp (1881–1976)
                • Romi Goldmuntz, businessman (1882–1960)
                • Gerard Walschap, writer (1898–1989)
                • Albert Lilar, Minister of Justice (1900–1976)
                • Suzanne Lilar, essayist, novelist, and playwright (1901–1992)
                • Heaven Tanudiredja, Designer, Artist
                • Eric de Kuyper, award-winning novelist, filmmaker, semiotician
                • Philip Sessarego, former British Army soldier, conman, hoaxer, mercenary lived in Antwerp and found dead in a garage (1952–2008)
                • Jean Genet, French writer and political activist (1909–1986): lived in Antwerp for short period in 1930s
                • George du Maurier, Came to Antwerp to study art and lost the sight in one eye. Cartoonist, author and grandfather of Daphne du Maurier (1834–1896)
                • Chaim Kreiswirth, Talmudist and Rabbi of the Machsike Hadas Community, Antwerp (1918–2001)
                • William Tyndale, Bible translator, arrested in Antwerp 1535 and burnt at Vilvoorde in 1536 (c. 1494–1536)
                • Akiba Rubinstein, Polish grandmaster of chess (1882–1961).
                • Veerle Casteleyn, Belgian performer
                • Ray Cokes, English TV host
                • Robert Barrett Browning, or "Pen", only child of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Studied painting in Antwerp.
                • Ford Madox Brown, leading Preraphaelite painter. Studied art at Antwerp.

                Select neighbourhoods

                • Den Dam – an area in northern Antwerp
                • The diamond district – an area consisting of several square blocks, it is Antwerp's centre for the cutting, polishing, and trading of diamonds
                • Linkeroever – Antwerp on the left bank of the Scheldt with a lot of apartment buildings
                • Meir – Antwerp's largest shopping street
                • Van Wesenbekestraat – the city's Chinatown
                • Het Zuid – the south of Antwerp, notable for its museums and Expo grounds
                • Zurenborg – an area between Central and Berchem station with a concentration of Art Nouveau townhouses

                Source: Wikipedia ( )
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