Antwerp - rubbing shoulders with Rubens

A 25 minute train ride took us yesterday from Herentals to Antwerp. Of course a day is not enough for a city of this scale, history and culture.

But having become a little “city-shy” we just wanted to have a short peek of the second biggest city of Belgium.

Already the cathedral-like arrival hall of the Central Station was impressive.

Walking down the “Meir”, Antwerp’s busy shopping street, we couldn’t help but looking up at the wonderful facades of old palace-like buildings harbouring all kinds of modern and international shops down below. The spacious pedestrian areas and plazas allowed easy, enjoyable strolling and room for plenty of buskers. A guitarist had a devoted young groupie dancing to his music. And only in Flanders would you find a piano on a cycle!

The actual  "Palace on the Meir” which was 

first owned by Napoleon, then William I of the Netherlands and then the Belgian royal family, has been restored to its former beauty. It now contains a brasserie and a chocolate shop.

One place we didn’t want to miss was “Rubenshuis”, the house where Rubens lived  with his family for 25 years until his death. Its a beautiful house and garden in the Flemish style of the time with Italian/Roman features bearing witness of Ruben’s time in Italy.

The generous bedrooms and living areas are full of his and his disciples’ paintings and sculptures.

Rubens was so successful in his times that he often did oil-sketches and had them finished off by his assistants.

But one doesn’t have to go to a museum to rub shoulders with the great artists. The city’s churches contain more paintings, facade sculptures and statues of Rubens, Van Dyke and their contemporaries. 

After soaking up all the great art, we rewarded ourselves with a coffee and a Belgian chocolate tasting plate. Sorry, no photo of this! We had to eat it very quickly so the chocolates wouldn’t melt away, haha!

Here a few more photos of the old city of Antwerp:

© Austin Robinson 2019