IntroductionAntwerp is Europe's second largest port and a world-famous centre for the diamond trade. Due to it's location on the bank of the river Scheldt which leads to the North Sea, it has long enjoyed a prosperous past. It's significance grew from the sixteenth century onwards when the waterway leading to the city of Bruges was closed and consequently trading houses, employment and wealth were transferred to Antwerp. The influences and wealth of this period are still on display through for example, medieval and Renaissance architecture which escaped World War Two bombings, or the many exhibitions and artifacts on view in the city's museums.
Antwerp won the title of European Capital of Culture in 1993, an event which triggered another revival; the status helped provide the impetus for the city to redevelop and reinvigorate the abandonned Zuid Quays as well as the run-down Eilandje district. Nowadays these areas are thriving centres of fashion, gastronomie and culture for the near 500,000 inhabitants as well as for visitors to the city.
For the tourist, the city offers many worthwhile destinations; why not just wander through the old city, built around the stunning Cathedral Of Our Lady and its medieval architecture? Enjoy the cobbled streets and small shops and boutiques or keep walking to reach Antwerp's quaint and beautiful Hendrik Conscienceplein square and its baroque Carolus Borromeus church. The Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Pieter Paul Rubens' (northern Europe's most famous baroque artist) home and studio or the Fine Arts Museum all provide further interesting destinations.