There is a story about the origin of the name “Antwerp”. They say that the name comes from “Hand Werpen” meaning, to throw a hand. And that statue in the middle of the Grote Markt really makes this story seem convincing. In the middle of the town square is a giant statue of Brabo. The story that goes that once there was a terrible giant who would collect tolls from sailors. Whoever did not pay their toll would have their hand cut off by the giant. Enter Brabo, a Roman Soldier, who managed to kill the giant and cut off his hand, throwing it into the river. But anyway, that isn’t actually the origin of the name “Antwerp”, but it’s a fun story.
These days there are three things that Antwerp is famous for, and which draws in tourists from all over the world and those things are:
Antwerp is the diamond capitol of the world. 84% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through this district, and there is no lack of shops trying to sell you the finished product. The place to go in Antwerp for diamonds is aptly called the “diamond district”. Conveniently, this district is located right next to the central train station. As you walk from the station towards the center of town, you will pass by several diamond shops which make for great window shopping. If you are interested in actually buying some diamonds while in Antwerp you should probably read this guide.
Antwerp is also famous for it’s fashion and design. When I lived in Belgium I would often hop on a train to visit Antwerp and do some shopping. You can find trendy shops there that you can’t find anywhere else in the country, and of course, this is the place to find great one of a kind designer pieces. For designer boutiques head to Kammenstraat and surroundings. For those wanting to learn even more about fashion, there is also the Fashion museum.
Antwerp is famously the home of painter Rubens. You can visit Ruben’s house which is now a museum of his life and work. There are also several great Art galleries in Antwerp worth a visit. Antwerp is also a great place to see traditional Flemish architecture, the Grote Markt is particularly beautiful with a large town all and beautiful guild houses. Also, the main cathedral, the Church of Our Lady is an impressive example of Gothic architecture and inside you can find several beautiful works by Rubens.