Discover the hidden places of Antwerp with us
If you allow yourself enough time, it’s an absolute joy to peel off Antwerp’s multiple layers. Come with us and find the hidden gems this multifaceted city has to offer. In a previous installment we discussed some wonderful art exhibitions, fascinating architecture and hidden alleyways. Today, we’re covering some other cool bits and pieces.
When industrial sites close their businesses, a city usually has two choices: either to demolish the site or to develop something new, leaving the site intact. Luckily, the city of Antwerp has decided for the latter in this case. Quirky Pakt is located at a former industrial site in the borough of Haringrode.
It houses a host of creative businesses across 7.000 m2, ranging from IT companies to restaurants and from a crossfit gym to a beer brewery. An initiative and ecological touch to the project is the site’s rooftop. It’s the largest public rooftop of Antwerp and is partly set up to cultivate vegetables and fruits. The produce is used by nearby Michelin-rewarded restaurant The Jane. There’s also a rooftop which is open to visitors from May through to November.
Urban Art – Zurenborg district
The Zurenborg district of Antwerp is home to one of the longest street art walls in the world. Organised by a non-profit organisation, the ‘Meeting of Styles’ event of 2017 invited close to 60 artists, with roots in over 10 different countries. They all contributed to the extensive wall in Krugerstraat and Minkelersstraat. Consequently, the result is quite magnificent, and it definitely shows a ‘meeting of styles.’ While you’re in the area, it’s worth visiting the nearby streets in the Berchem district for some serious neo-classical architecture, Cogels-Osylei being one of my favourites.
Seeing that most visitors to Antwerp tend to stay on Meir when doing their shopping, Het Zuid is actually a tad bit different. Boutique furniture and antique shops aplenty here in this beautiful part of town. What’s more, numerous art galleries and museums can also be found in this affluent district, FOMU probably being my favourite. The Photography Museum of Antwerp hosts several different exhibitions by talented new as well as long-established photographers. Other museums of interest around Waalsekaai and Vlaamsekaai are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Kloosterstraat, Volksstraat and Kammenstraat are my streets of personal choice in Het Zuid. Concept stores are booming here and the bars and restaurants really come to life after sunset.
The Botanical Garden on Leopoldstraat is a public garden featuring plants and herbs from all over the world. Built 200 years ago, the garden was established to supply next door hospital St Elisabeth with medicinal plants. The garden itself is admission-free and open seven days a week. However, the glass conservatory on the edge of the garden is open solely during weekends. The enclosure offers a peaceful escape from the bustling theatre district and features a wealth of statues as well.
Over to you: what are your favourite places in Antwerp?