Rubenhuis – The former home of Peter Paul Rubens, and now a museum dedicated to showcasing the master painter’s works; Rubenhuis is one of the most popular spots in Antwerp among visitors. Unlike many of Europe’s great artists, Rubens did not live unappreciated in the depths of squalor, and was able to construct a rather decadent Italian-style villa in his beloved Antwerp.
Dozens of paintings from Rubens are now exhibited in this lovingly-maintained museum, as well as works from his contemporaries. Rubens’ works exhibited in the museum range from early pieces such as Adam and Eve, to self-portraits completed later in life. The museum is even home to the Rubenianum, a centre dedicated to the study of the great artist.
Cathedral of Our Lady – Even more of Rubens’ works are on show in the Roman Catholic church, Cathedral of Our Lady, in the centre of Antwerp. However, these are not the only highlights of the beautiful 16th-century gothic cathedral. Complete with an extravagant spire peeking out above the rest of the Antwerp skyline, the cathedral is recognised by UNESCO as a site of unique heritage and intrigue.
The site of the cathedral has held significance for more than 1,000 years, with a small chapel residing here from the 9th to the 12th century. Over the centuries, the cathedral has maintained a position of importance not just in local culture and religion, but also the arts. Developing an active musical life in the 15th century, some of Belgium’s most important composers, such as Ockeghem and Obrecht, served in the church.
Grote Markt – If you are heading to Antwerp’s Grote Markt (Great Market Square) for the horse tram tour, be sure to spare an hour or so to enjoy the architectural highlights of this beautiful part of the old city quarter. Home to the City Hall, majestic Guildhalls and the Brabo fountain, depicting the legend of the Antwerp’s formation.