You may feel like an intruder in this sacred, quiet space, but don’t worry – you are welcome. The Beguinage reminds us of a secret garden, nestled in the city centre next to the university, it is a surprise for those exploring. The tiny houses and charming St Catherine’s Church offers a haven of silence to busy souls, the beautiful garden, orchard and pond in the inner courtyard replenish and rejuvenate. Walk along the cobbled streets in this sixteenth-century garden of peace and quiet.<br />
Beguines were devout women who lived in a community, without taking religious vows. As a consequence of this particular religious life they were neither laywomen nor nuns.
The first beguinage in Antwerp (1240-1542), Het Hof Sion, was situated to the south of the city, rather far outside the city walls. After the destruction of Het Hof Sion the beguines acquired land within the city walls, where they rebuilt their beguinage in 1545. Despite a difficult period under French and Dutch rule at the end of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth century beguines lived here well into the twentieth century. The last Antwerp beguine, Virginia Laeremans, died in 1986.
Today the beguinage has a residential function. Initially the houses were built around a square, but as a result of the growing number of beguines an alley was added. The original character and tranquillity of the beguinage have been preserved.
The original church was destroyed in 1799; it was replaced by the current St. Catherine's Church in 1827.
Special opening days
Special closing days
Price per person:
City Card: true.
The Antwerp ZOO is one of the oldest and best-known zoos in Europe. It will take you and your parents at least half a day to see and do it all! The penguins live in Vriesland with their own arctic enclosure, elephants and giraffes are as tall as the Egyptian temple they stay in and hippopotamuses goof around in a pink villa. 950 different species and 5000 animals live at the zoo, that’s more than all the sweets you’ll ever eat all in one place!
The Botanical Garden along Leopoldstraat is a unique green haven in the city centre. It is a world in one garden, exceptional trees and shrubs, 2000 herbs, cactuses and foreign plants will inspire the plant fundi.
Rural life sometimes seems very far away when you are roaming around Antwerp, but it is actually closer than you think. You can get a taste of life on the farm at the petting farms on the outskirts of the city. If you want to feed pigs, cuddle rabbits or play among the kid goats, then this is the place for you.
Schoonselhof Cemetery is the last resting place of several famous Belgians and Antwerpers. But many people don’t realise that it is only a beautiful park with shadowy lanes where you enjoy a lovely stroll. Enjoy the magnificent trees, the stunning monuments and the many birds including woodpeckers, geese and herons. The park cemetery was inspired by Friedhof Ohlsdorf in Hamburg and is also often called Antwerp’s Père Lachaise.
What do you do if it’s raining outside but you don’t want to stay indoors? The Antwerp residents don’t let a shower or thunderstorm stop them from doing what they want to do. If you’re prepared to brave the bad weather, you will see that there’s plenty to keep you occupied, with an umbrella in hand, if necessary. We are happy to inspire you with sheltered and less sheltered tips.
There’s lots to see and experience at the redesigned Plantin-Moretus Museum. Step into the world of pioneering publisher Plantin and his in-laws, the Moretus family. Seven tips for an extra special museum visit.
The secret Vlaeykensgang alley dates from 1591 and connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt Pelgrimstraat with one another. Walk through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and you feel as if you have journeyed back in time. In the past this alley was where the shoemakers and the poorest people in the city lived. The shoemakers were also in charge of sounding the alarm bell of the cathedral. These days you can find antiques stores and art galleries here as well as the exclusive restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The atmosphere is very intimate which is why many people also like to come here to listen to the carillon concerts during the summertime.
Shorter days and longer nights… Yes, autumn is here. But don’t worry, because in Antwerp we always make sure that every day and every night is simply unforgettable, with fun parties in unexpected places, concerts in palaces and exhibitions and culinary highlights in the city centre. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, we have another surprise up our sleeve for you. Book the Discover Antwerp package, spend the night in Antwerp and make the most of your stay with the Antwerp City Card that is included.
Step into the shoes of the leading Baroque artist of his era. Rubens and his family lived in this palatial setting for well over 25 years and it is here that the artist created the lion’s share of his work. Here he entertained Europe’s nobility and Royalty and stored his impressive art collection in a beautiful art room. The garden, the creators’ workshop and the fabulous collection draws 150 000 visitors from all over the world, year after year.
Antwerp’s latest architectural jewel is the Port House. This funky and innovative building, with roots in the past, is the new headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority that accommodates over 500 employees. You can also plan a guided tour of the building and enjoy the panoramic view over the port and the city.
St Anna’s Tunnel – or Underpass, as the locals like to refer to it – was opened in 1933. Both on the left and on the right bank, you can still access the tunnel using the authentic wooden escalators which were unique at the opening.
Experience the perfect winter holiday in Antwerp this year! From 10 December to 8 January, you will find every ingredient for a memorable festive season in the heart of the city. Not sure where to start? Then take inspiration from our list of nine top Winter in Antwerp attractions.
Het Steen was home to the Maritime Museum for many years. Now that its collection has been moved to the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), HETPALEIS and the city of Antwerp have reopened this legendary building as a ‘question centre’ for visitors (and anyone looking for answers), young or old, aged six years or over.
This museum is the continuation of the Of the Officina Plantiniana, founded by Christoffel Plantijn in 1555, as the first industrial printing works in history. Granted by Unesco in 2005, the museum demonstrates the entire book production process from the 15th to the 18th century.