Antwerp, located 50km north from Brussels, is the city of diamonds and fashion in Belgium.
The city is known worldwide for the cut of its diamonds. Antwerpen, the city name which derives from handwerpen (literally: throwing hand) comes from the legend of Silvio Brabo, in which a Roman centurion called Antigon defeats a giant, cut off his hand and threw it in the river Scheldt.
Antwerp is located on the banks of the river Scheldt. It was a small frontier town of the German Empire. It began to grow after the war, becoming the most important city of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, with a population of 150.000 inhabitants at the end of the fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth century.
By becoming one of the major cities of Europe, in 1531, the first Antwerp Stock Exchange was founded, as we know it today, thanks to the trade routes originally born in India and America. Antwerp was a major cultural center, with a huge influence of important artists from northern Europe in the sixteenth century.
This period of prosperity ends with religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, who revolted and sacked almost all the churches. The Duke of Alba, sent by Philip II, a very uncompromising Catholic king, puts the city on fire and blood, which is what is called Spanish Fury. After this period of unrest, the city knows the success of one of the most important artists of the Baroque style Pierre Paul Rubens and some of his most illustrious Anton Van Dyck, David Teniers, among others.
In 1795 after the French Revolution and thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, navigation on the Scheldt was restored. Napoleon aware of the strategic situation of the city compared to its main rival, England has a port basin dug and creates a naval arsenal.
Following the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Belgium returns under Dutch rule, followed by a short period of calm. But again banned by the Dutch, navigation on the Scheldt was finally restored in 1863, after the independence of Belgium.
Today, the port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe. At the same time, the city has developed a significant industrial activity. A cosmopolitan city in perpetual renewal, Antwerp is an important artistic, historical and cultural center that you can discover with Bravo Discovery.