Celebrated as a leader in the diamond trade, Antwerp — Belgium’s second largest city after Brussels — is a many faceted city. Among its architectural standouts is Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (OLV, or Cathedral of Our Lady), the largest cathedral in the Benelux countries. The list of artists who were either born or worked in Antwerp includes Frans Halls, Anthony van Dyck, Pieter and Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens. And Antwerp is a favorite of beer lovers – the Kulminator pub is famed for its menu of 600 brews.
After 169 years of construction, the cathedral of Antwerp — Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (OLV, or Cathedral of Our Lady) – finally dominated the Antwerp skyline in 1521 with a height of 123 meters (404 feet). It is the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries.
The Cathedral is an iconic treasury, with an impressive collection of major art works, including a series of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens. Following a 20-year restoration, the cathedral has been restored to its former architectural beauty.
Legend has it that Antwerp owes its name to a corruption of the Dutch “hand werpen” (hand throwing). The fountain in the middle of Grote Markt depicts the story of the brave Roman soldier Silvius Brabo, who slew the giant Druon Antigoon and threw his hand into the Scheldt River because the giant had demanded an exorbitant toll from every ship on the river.
The hand is also a prominent feature of the city’s coat of arms. Antwerp Hands come as pastry biscuits or as chocolate. The chocolates may also be filled with marzipan and Elixir d’Anvers. This luminous yellow liquer remains a popular tipple in Antwerp, still being produced in the center of the city.