Back in 2006 work took me to Antwerp for six months, commuting from near London early Monday morning, returning home Friday evening. I did this for a few weeks before realising that for the same or less money to the client I could go somewhere in Europe for the weekend. Which is what I did ten times, spending only four days a month at home and instead visiting Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Seville, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Krakow, and Antwerp. Was a tiring but great way to see Europe at very little cost!

I’ve fond memories of Antwerp, though now wish I’d explored more at the time. It’s an underrated city, with wonderful history but also quite a funky modern feel. Both these were on display at The Royal Museum of Fine Arts where a modern artist had been asked to display next to the old masters of the permanent collection. It was quite shocking at the time, particularly the figure standing rather close to the painting, which I was unsure whether was real or not, so approached carefully. Looking at the photos the white power cable cover by his feet should have been a give away.

Antwerp Cathedral is a landmark of the city, a quite spectacular piece of architecture.

As was in a quite different fashion the Boerentoren / KBC Tower, for eight years (until 1940) it was the tallest building in Europe, a wonderful piece of Art Deco architecture.

The train station is a landmark of earlier Art Nouveau design, with a modern platform area completed while I was there.

More great architecture in the intricate brickwork of the Vleeshuis, a former guildhall, which is close to Het Steen, Antwerp’s oldest building, with it’s rather scary statue of the giant Lange Wapper.

One of the most fascinating places in the city was the Plantin-Moretus Museum, a former print works housed in this beautiful building.

The main city square was as you’d expect, though living now in New Zealand where nothing is particularly old, this feels like a lifetime ago to be surrounded by such history on a daily basis.

To end with a couple of sculptures from Antwerp Zoo.

Author: jontycrane

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