Antwerp is on a main river and is linked to the North Sea by an estuary. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking second in Europe. The city is also known for its diamond industry and trade.
The city dates from the Middle Ages.
According to folklore, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the river. He wouldn't let anyone pass unless they allowed him to cut off their hand, which he then threw into the river. Eventually, the giant was killed by a young hero named Brabo, who challenged the Giant and was able to cut off the Giant's hand, which he then threw in the river. You'll see Brabo's statue in the pictures in front of the City Hall throwing a hand. Antwerp means throwing a hand! We found many hands around town, some even made of chocolate.
The main attraction is the Cathedral of Our Lady. It is a medieval church and is filled with many beautiful things: the Rubens paintings, the stained glass windows and the numerous carved wooden statuary.
The American Square: this square is so called because it is lined with a Hilton Hotel, McDonald's, Hard Rock Cafe, Starbucks, Manhattan Burgers. Some think Antwerp has become an American Colony!
Here's an update on Belgian Chocolate. It's not all little cups filled with a filling. Those are called Pralines; not like our Pralines in New Orleans. There are many different varieties like we have, plain, solid, flavored, etc. And it's all delicious.
In the pictures is the Nello and Patrasche statue. Nello, a poor orphan boy, becomes friends with Patrasche, an abandoned cart dog. They walk to town together every day. They often visit the cathedral where Nello admires the paintings by Reubens. Due to a series of setbacks, the lives of Nello and Patrasche end tragically in the cathedral. Their story was written about in a novel in 1872, "A Dog in Antwerp". It was to draw attention to child labor and animal abuse.
Antwerp was occupied by Germany during WWII because of its strategic port in May 1940. It was liberated by the British on 4 Sep 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp because the Allies used it to bring new materiel ashore.