D.A.T.E. 2018 :: Discover Antwerp On Wheels
And so the fifth edition of D.A.T.E. kicks off. Curious faces slowly waking up around the cosy breakfast table in Hotel Pilar. A croissant, a chat, a coffee and lots of enthusiasm: we’re ready!
Jona from Cyclant puts everybody on a comfortable bike and we start our tour at the majestic South neighbourhood. ‘Het Zuid’ is highly attractive to locals and visitors. You will find stately mansions, wide boulevards and beautiful squares here. We gaze at the imposing Royal Museum of Fine Arts, (currently closed for renovation) and admire the architecture of the 19th Art Nouveau ‘Boat house’.
We pass the New Palace of Justice, or Butterfly Palace, with its transparent features and pause at the Kaaien, next to the river. The quays of Antwerp, where the port activity was once situated, separated the industry from the citizen life by a metal fence, which is still there as a silent witness.
We move towards the historical centre and take a surprising turn to the Muntplein. A piece of 16th century wasteland has been transformed into a nice green area, where inhabitants can enjoy communal gardens, a sitting area and pure silence in the centre of town. Every two years ‘Meeting of Styles’ colours the square with a quality graffiti gathering.
The Friday market is home to the Plantin-Moretus Museum. This is where the history of the book, printing and entrepreneurship really comes to life. It is home to the oldest printing presses in the world. This UNESCO word heritage offers you a unique historical experience as it takes you back to Antwerp’s golden 16th century.
The heart of Antwerp, The Grote Markt (Great Market Square) is filled with an extravagant city hall, century guildhalls, many restaurants and cafés. Jona entertains us with the legend behind the Brabo fountain and brightens all faces with the sentence: “come on, now we have to catch a boat!”
Over water, underground
Blue skies and a boat ride: holiday vibes! We hop on the ferry and just a few minutes later we are left speechless . It really is one of a kind, the skyline of Antwerp. Add a dreamy cruiseboat, the river Scheldt sparkling in the sunshine and great company: what a nice way to start the day.
We head back to the right bank underground, using the wooden escalators of the Sint Anna’s Tunnel or Underpass. The tunnel and entrance buildings are a piece of living history in the heart of Antwerp.
The last stop shows us the Fashion district. De ModeNatie is the creative fashion heart of Antwerp. It houses the Fashion Museum (MOMU), the famous fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI).
Hungry for more and for great food: let yet another edition of Discover Through Antwerp begin!
Text by Elke Verkimpen
Pics by Niko Caignie