A day in Antwerp with the City Card
After moving to Antwerp six months ago, and coming here for many years, I really wanted to discover some of the city's hidden gems, its lesser known places most people don't get to see. And to do so, I got myself a City Card! It gives you free entry in 17 museums and 4 historical churches, as well as free use of public transport. The perfect bargain to discover Antwerp's cultural patrimony that goes far beyond the Rubens House and the Cathedral of Our Lady. Follow me!
Visit of the Museum Mayer van den Bergh | Lange Gasthuisstraat 19, 2000 Antwerp
A first museum I would like to tell you about is the Museum Mayer van den Bergh that houses the private collection of Fritz Mayer van den Bergh. Fritz was a man with a true passion for art and during his rather short life (he died in an accident at the age of 43), he collected an impressive amount of works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and 19th century. It was his mother who had a museum built in Gothic style to display his collection after his death and it has been open for the public since 1904. The building itself feels very historic and the collection gives a good overview of the predominant themes in painting from the past centuries, such as family portraits, still lives and landscapes.
Visit of the Botanical Garden | Leopoldstraat 24, 2000 Antwerpen
The Museum Mayer van den Bergh is located near Antwerp's Botanical Garden and I always enjoy going through it whenever I'm close. Hundreds of years ago, it was the herb and plant garden of a pharmacist who used them to make medicines. Nowadays the green oasis houses about 2,000 plant species and everyone may enjoy its serenity and calm in the middle of the city. Personal favorite is the greenhouse, which contains many cactuses, but also lots of palms and other tropical plants (it is open on Saturday from 13:30 to 15:45 and on Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00).
Lunch at Juno | Vrijdagmarkt 5, 2000 Antwerpen
The atmosphere at the pleasant Vrijdagmarkt is quintessential Antwerp city life and as such it is one of my favorite squares. This is also where you'll find Juno, where they love vegetables, a lot (something we have in common)! Using nothing but seasonal products, their offer is ever changing. Last time I went there my eyes were drawn to stuffed sweet potatoes and spinach pancakes for example. The staff is friendly and familiar and when the sun is out their terrace is a real charm!
Visit of the Sint-Andries Church | Augustijnenstraat, 2000 Antwerpen
The Sint-Andries Church isn't as renowned as some of Antwerp's other monumental churches, but it's definitely worth pushing its doors. Inside you'll discover lots of Baroque elements, such as the altars and art from the 17th century. The theatrical pulpit depicting the calling of apostle Andrew is a definite eye-catcher and the stained glass are really beautiful! During the weekend, you can visit the church from 14:00 to 17:00.
Visit of the Museum De Reede | Ernest van Dijckkaai 7, 2000 Antwerpen
The Museum De Reede is centered around three masters: the Spanish Francisco Goya, the Belgian Félicien Rops and the Norwegian Edvard Munch. Having each had their share of tragedy in their lives (such as the loss of close family members and illness), these three artists concentrated on the human condition in their art. In the museum you'll only find graphic art, meaning the collection is composed exclusively of works on paper. Mostly through drawings, you'll discover how these artists reflected on mankind and the darkness of its destiny.
Visit of DIVA, Home of Diamonds | Suikerrui 17-19, 2000 Antwerpen
And going from dark to flamboyant, let me introduce you DIVA, Antwerp's new diamond museum. For more than 500 years, Antwerp has been the biggest diamond city in the world. Therefore it is only normal the city got a brilliant museum dedicated to diamonds, jewelry and silverware. Your journey will take you from one intimate room to another, from the Wunderkammer to the Boudoir, discovering exceptional, sparkling items and intriguing stories along the way. After your visit, make sure to stop at the museum shop. It has a great selection that is perfect for gifting!