Antwerp is the largest city in Flanders and the second largest city in Belgium. It is most famous for its diamond industry and so known as the World Diamond Center. 70% of all diamonds in the world pass through Antwerp at least once. The Antwerp Diamond Square Mile houses 1500 diamond companies and 4 diamond bourses. The area is closed off to vehicle traffic by bars that rise out of the ground and as you stroll through the streets of the Diamond Square Mile, you can't help but notice the hundreds of security cameras covering every inch. Thousands of jewelers display glittering diamonds in their store fronts. The Diamond Museum takes you on a history lesson through the geology of diamond formation, mining, cutting, polishing, and Antwerp's rise to becoming the World Diamond Center.
A walk to the Old City Center will bring you to the the massive Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady (1521). Its spire is described as "stone lacework" and dominates the skyline at 123 meters. The church houses four works by the famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
Brabo throwing away the hand of the giant Antigoon, who forced everyone who wanted to cross the Scheldt river to pay a toll fee. Brabo stopped the giant by cutting off his hand. The city was named according to this legend, Antwerpen (Ant = hand, werpen = throwing).
Continuing on to the Scheldt river, the historic medieval castle, Het Steen (1225), rises above you. The castle helped to control access to the river and it was also used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. Het Steen is all that remains of the former fortified city.
The De Keyserlei/Meir area steps away from the Central Station offers just about every type of ethnic cuisine you can imagine! We especially enjoyed the Argentine Grill where my lamb chops were served cooking on a mini charcoal grill.
To view all of pictures of Antwerp, visit http://public.fotki.com/Davis2001r6/italy-2011/antwerp-belgium/