ANTWERP: Antwerp is the largest city in Flanders, “The city”, as the Flemish call their unofficial capital itself, has a lot to offer. The historic centre with the Grote Markt (a very characteristic square), monuments and fountains like Brabofontein and the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady, stunning example of Gothic architecture. Walk a little further and you will discover the hip new Eilandje neighbourhood. The eye-catcher here is the MAS: Museum aan de Stroom, which opened in 2011. Take the escalators upstairs for free to enjoy great views of the city and harbour. And in order to really discover the economic engine of Belgium, you can’t mis a boat trip.
BRUSSELS: A capital for 500 million people. That is Brussels. The city is not only the Belgians’ political and cultural heart, but of all of Europe. With 24 official languages, everyone feels at home here. Brussels loves its heroes; big, small and drawn. Chansonnier Jacques “Ne me quitte pas” Brel sang about the city in his songs, while near the Grote Markt (the main square) stands a little guy who is always in dire need: Manneken Pis. Everywhere in the City centre we find cartoon heroes on the walls. Like Lucky Luke, Smurfs and Tintin.
BRUGES: The entire Bruges’ city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. And that’s not for nothing. Take the picturesque Rozenhoedkaai, where time seems to have stood still for centuries. Step gables, towers and bridges where a boat can just pass underneath. Here you imagine yourself in the Middle Ages: the time when Bruges was the center of Western Europe, bigger and more important than London or Paris.
GHENT: Ghent is the historical heart of Flanders’ region. See the Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo’s Cathedral, stroll across the Grass and Korenlei and through the Patershol, the oldest city district. Want something sweet after all these sights? In the Ghent chocolate workshops magic is done with cocoa; chocolates from the city are loved until Japan. Chocolate with mustard, anyone?