Antwerp

Port of Antwerp
Antwerp
Antwerp is a Belgian city and is mostly situated on the right bank of the river Scheldt. In 1999 the number of inhabitants was estimated to be approximately 450,000. 200 years ago only 56,000 people lived in the city, in 1910 there were more than 300,000 inhabitants and now it has the largest number of inhabitants in Belgium. When it comes to size, Antwerp is the second largest city. The port of Antwerp is the second-largest port in Europe and the fifth largest in the world (based on the quantity of goods shipped every year).

Functions

The city of Antwerp has an important administrative function as capital of the province of Antwerp. Antwerp is the seat for a Court of Appeal, a Court in the first instance, an Assize Court and a court-martial. It is also the seat for the diocese of Antwerp. The number of service organizations is enormous. Approximately 70% of the working people have a job in the service industries and the main reason for this is the presence of the port of Antwerp. Refineries and the chemical industry also owe their presence to the port. Antwerp is the golden industry, employing thousands of people.

History

Port of Antwerp
Antwerp
Since the sixteenth century a number of archaeological discoveries dating back to Roman times have been made in and around Antwerp. An important moment was the discovery of a cemetery close to the St. Michiels abbey. Here they discovered a prehistoric method of burial (where the ashes were kept in a grave) from the first and second century AD. A large amount of Roman material from the second and third century was found in the neighbourhood of ‘t Steen. The name ‘Antwerpen’ first appears in writing on a charter from the year 726. It is common knowledge that the city was destroyed by Norsemen in 836. Halfway through the Middle Ages the city got defensive works, gates, and later on city rights.

Tourism

Many tourists visit Antwerp to make a round trip on the Scheldt or to visit the zoo or one of the many museums. A highlight of ecclesiastical architecture is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Cathedral built between 1352 and 1411. The cathedral is home to four famous paintings of Rubens: the Elevation of the Cross, the Resurrection of Christ, the Descent from the cross and the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. Another church, the early-baroque St.-Augustinus church (1615-1618) holds paintings from Rubens, van Dyck and Jordaens among others. The most important non-ecclesiastical monument is the city hall built by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt between 1561 and 1565. Other interesting buildings are: 't Steen, the St.-Elisabeth hospital, the Vleeshuis (Butchers’ Hall) in Brabant late-gothic style (1501-1503), the Oude Beurs (Old Exchange) and the Nieuwe Beurs (New Exchange), the Waterhouse, and the Maagdenhuis (Virgin House). These and much more lead to approximately one million nights spent in this city by tourists every year.