Much like the diamonds, Antwerp sparkles with an impressive range of architecture from medieval buildings to the Art Nouveau styles. Antwerp is also an art-loving city with which the name Rubens is eternally linked. More than 400 years after the birth of this brilliant painter, it is still possible to see the extent to which Rubens left his mark on the city.
Antwerp is a splendid city with numerous architectural highlights, most of which date from the 16th and the 17th century. The past is also represented by the numerous paintings of Peter Paul Rubens who lived in the Antwerp of the early 17th century. Three major paintings of his may be seen in the Cathedral of our Lady, a masterpiece of lace work in stone. Begun in 1352, it is one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. Moreover Antwerp is the diamond centre of the World. If diamonds really are a girl's best friend, than a lot of ladies will not leave out a visit to the diamond district around the Railway Station. This area is also the Jewish part of the city. The presence of many 'Chassidic' Jewish people gives the city a flair that cannot be found in other Belgian cities. If you want to find life as it was in the Shtetls before WW2, Antwerp is a great place to start. You will find Synagogues, bookstores, restaurants, Kosher bakeries and of course diamond stores. The area just looks Jewish. No doubt the Jews of Antwerp are very tightly knit. They live together and work together. Antwerp has about 15,000 Jewish inhabitants and about 90% work in the diamond industry.
A guided tour of Antwerp usually starts with a relaxing walk to the unique Market place, surrounded by the mighty Renaissance Town hall and numerous guilt houses. We enter the famous Cathedral of Our Lady, crowned with a unique Gothic steeple, the symbol of the City of Antwerp. We conclude our tour with a visit to a diamond cutting workshop and showroom.