Sunday, July 10, 2011

Antwerp;the world famous city of Dimond

City of diamonds, city of fashion, city of one of the most important international ports, city of Pieter Paul Rubens and so much more having countless shopping streets, that's beautiful city Antwerp 

      Antwerp is a municipality of Belgium and the capital of the Flanders, one of Belgium's three regions. Antwerp's total population is 472,071 and its total area is 204.51 km2, giving a population density of 2,308 inhabitants per km².

Antwerp has long been an important city in the nations of the Benelux both economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Fury of the Dutch Revolt. It is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the estuary Westerschelde. The city has one of the largest seaports in Europe.
 Groen Plaats
KBC Tower
the port of Antwerp is the 17th largest (by tonnage) port in the world and second only to Rotterdam in Europe.It handles high volumes of economically attractive general and project cargo, as well as bulk cargo. Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houston, Texas. Electricity generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doel, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants.

Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade that takes place largely within the diamond district.Since last two decades Indian traders become increasingly important. Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry.
VLM Airlines has its head office on the grounds of Antwerp International Airport in Deurne, Antwerp; the office is also CityJet's Antwerp office.
Building and Museum-
In the 16th century, Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens the houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic League on the northern quays in 1891. The city also suffered considerable war damage by V-bombs, and in recent years other noteworthy buildings were demolished for new developments.
Antwerp Zoo was founded in 1843, and is home to more than 6,000 animals (about 769 species). One of the oldest zoos in the world, it is renowned for of its high level of research and conservation.
Cental Station

Central Station is a railway station designed by Louis Delacenserie that was completed in 1905. It has two monumental neo-baroque facades, a large metal and glass dome 60m and a gilt and marble interior
The whole complex is over 400m long and has two entrances, a historic domed building at the Astrid square and a modern atrium at the Kievit square.There are three levels of tracks and a shopping center which includes a diamond gallery with more than 30 diamond shops.
The monumental main building has a huge dome and towers with several ornaments including large lion statues with different kinds of marble and stone. Not a single square meter either inside or outside the building is not decorated.The platforms are covered by a huge iron and glass vaulted ceiling.The station has two lower-level platforms, including one for high speed trains.
Cathedral Tower

The Groenplaats-  The Groenplaats or 'Green Place', one of Antwerp's most prominent squares, is located in the heart of the city's historic district, near the cathedral. At its center stands a statue of Antwerp's most famous painter, Pieter Paul Rubens.Not as green as its name suggests, the Groenplaats is a square bordered mainly by cafés. The café terraces are very popular with both tourists and local.The square offers great views of the Cathedral, which borders the Groenplaats to the north. It is also the starting place of a tourist tram, which offers a ride along some of Antwerp's most interesting sights.

Cathedral of Our Lady. This church was begun in the 14th century and finished in 1518. The church has four works by Rubens, viz. "The Descent from the Cross", "The Elevation of the Cross", "The Resurrection of Christ" and "The Assumption"
The Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal (Cathedral of our Lady) is a masterpiece of lace work in stone.
Cathedral Tower' stone work
It is one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. The cathedral was the tallest structure in the Low Countries for several centuries. Even now, the 123 meter tall spire reigns over the city. 
Cathedral Tower's stone work
          The wide central nave is flanked by three aisles on each side, creating a huge interior space with 48 pillars in each aisle. The cathedral has a length of 117m .
Cathedral Tower's stone work
There are many more notable objects inside like altars, confessionals, statues and the pulpit. The main relic that survived the middle ages is the bronze tomb of Isabella of Bourbon. The Cathedral is also adorned with 34 huge stained windows.
St. James' Church, is more ornate than the cathedral. It contains the tomb of Rubens

The Church of St. Paul has a beautiful baroque interior. It is a few hundred yards north of the Grote Markt

Plantin-Moretus Museum preserves the house of the printer Christoffel Plantijn and his successor Jan Moretus

The Saint-Boniface Church is an Anglican church and headseat of the archdeanery North-West Europe.

Boerentoren (Farmers' Tower) or KBC Tower, a 26-storey building built in 1932, is the oldest skyscraper in Europe.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, close to the southern quays, has a collection of old masters (Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian) and the leading Dutch masters.

Rubenshuis is the former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in Antwerp. It is now a museum.

Exchange or Bourse, one of the earliest institutions in Europe with that title, was built in 1872.
Law Courts, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, Arup and VK Studio, and opened by King Albert in April 2006. This building is the antithesis of the heavy, dark court building designed by Joseph Poelaert that dominates the skyline of Brussels. The courtrooms sit on top of six fingers that radiate from an airy central hall, and are surmounted by spires which provide north light and resemble oast houses or the sails of barges on the nearby River Scheldt. It is built on the site of the old Zuid ("South") station, at the end of a magnificent 1.5 km perspective at the southern end of Amerikalei. The road neatly disappears into an underpass under oval Bolivarplaats to join the motorway ring. This leaves peaceful surface access by foot, bicycle or tram (routes 8 & 12). The building's highest 'sail' is 51 m (167.32 ft) high, has a floor area of 77,000 m2 (828,821.10 sq ft), and cost €130 million.
Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, nothing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel defended by General Chassé in 1832, except for the Steen, which has been restored. Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications. After the establishment of Belgian independence, Antwerp was defended by the citadel and an enceinte around the city. In 1859, seventeen of the twenty-two fortresses constructed under Wellington's supervision in 1815–1818 were dismantled and the old citadel and enceinte were removed. A new enceinte 8 miles (13 km) long was constructed, and the villages of Berchem and Borgerhout, now boroughs of Antwerp, were absorbed within the city.

Due to its long and culturally rich history, the city of Antwerp houses many interesting historical buildings from different historical periods, as well as a lot of interesting museums. Recently it has become a trendy city, attracting a lot of Flemish and foreign artists, writers, intellectuals, and actors. This is reflected in the city's many trendy bars and shops. Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be as historically preserved as other Flemish medieval cities, like Bruges or Ghent, it is a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life 
There are a few airlines serving this local airport. Most flights are with CityJet, catering to business travelers. Flights go to London (LCY) and Manchester (MAN) in the United Kingdom with convenient connections to Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh and Jersey. There is a regular bus to the center and a taxi costs around €10

Vlaamse Opera
 Every hour there is a direct bus to and from this airport which costs €10 and has two stops in Antwerp at Hotel Crowne Plaza and in the city center, in front of Central Station. Taking the train from Brussels Airport is also an option to arrive in Antwerp (tickets €9,50, change trains in Brussels-North). It takes 45 min to 1 hr to reach Brussels Airport from Antwerp. On weekends, this could extend to an extra 30 minutes.  

There are 2 options to take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Antwerp central station. There is a regular intercity train Amsterdam - Brussels that connects Schiphol Airport directly with Antwerp Central station in approximately 1 hr 50 minutes. You can buy tickets with credit card at the automatic ticket booths in the Schiphol arrival hall. Payment with cash is also possible at the counter. Or you can book through Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS) . A single ticket costs about €25. Second option, is the bright red high-speed Thalys train Amsterdam - Paris, which also connects Amsterdam airport with Antwerp central station, in about half the time it takes the regular train, but at double the price. Contrary to regular trains, reservations on Thalys are required. Best reserve your seat a week or so beforehand, since buying a ticket on the spot will turn out to be even more expensive. Please keep in mind that the regular intercity and the Thalys are run by different companies, but their trains tend to leave from the same platform. Whatever you do, do not jump on a Thalys train with a regular intercity ticket or vice versa. Thalys and regular train tickets are not interchangeable. Your wallet won't like the fine.
Hand Sculpture
By train
Belgium has an extensive rail network, and for intercity travel within Belgium, trains are always the best option. Tickets can be bought on the website of the Belgian railways and at the ticket counters in most stations. There are good train connections to and from Brussels Airport and Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, international trains from France and the Netherlands stop in Antwerp—central station only, and not anymore in Antwerp-Berchem. To plan your trip, you can consult the website of the NMBS for national and international travels.
By Bus
Antwerp has Eurolines (at Rooseveltplaats) and Ecolines (at Berchem station square) offices with buses coming from all over Europ
Public transportation

Egle Fountain

A scooter; standing

The public transportation company De Lijn has a dense network of buses, trams, and pre-metro connections in the city and wide areaaround it. You can buy cards of €9 (10 fares) at fixed points in town or buy them inside buses. If you don't have a card you pay more inside the bus (€2.00 per fare). For one fare, you can ride up to an hour within the entire city center limits. If you want to travel out of the city center you have to pay more for the extra zones travelled. The central public transportation point is the Franklin Roosevelt plaats, near the central train station. Most buses leave from there or from the train station.

The trams and pre-metro (underground tram) also cross through the whole city.

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