This is a snippet of our recent trip through the Netherlands and Belgium. Leaving Delft mid-morning we headed south out of the Netherlands to Antwerp, our first stop in Belgium, a land full of chocolate and churches. Hearing nothing but good things about the city we had decided to stop for the afternoon before travelling onto Ghent. The beauty of the city was immediately obvious as we jumped off the train onto escalators that carried us up towards the grand and elegant gold and stone architecture of the central train station.
Leaving the ornate station we wandered towards the old town, passing endless alfresco dining spots amid street performer’s violin tunes. The style of buildings in Antwerp was noticeably different to that of the Netherlands- the stone was whiter, the buildings more grand and ornate. It reminded me a lot of French cities with a fair bit of Spanish thrown in.
Stopping for lunch at a local cafe full of potted plants and other homewares, we indulged in refreshingly cool sodas (coming from Finnish summer we weren’t used to the 30 degree weather!) and some of the simple yet delicious sandwiches that seemed to make up the majority of the menu and be a Belgian specialty.
Continuing on to the centre of the old town and the main touristy area, we came to the Cathedral of Our Lady, a gothic style catholic cathedral started in the 14th century and apparently never quite finished (the towers are asymmetrical). Although this hardly detracts from the world heritage listed site- it’s stunning. It’s actually one of the most splendid cathedral I’ve visited, thanks to a combination of it’s enormity (ground space it occupies) height of it’s towers, intricate details on said towers and just the general picturesqueness of it’s location.
To one side of the cathedral is a huge square, boarded by a multitude of cafes and home to a beautiful ornate green fountain. The conjoined buildings encircling the square appear elegant and valiant, reminiscent of a grander time.
The square and surrounding streets create the perfect atmosphere to wander and soak up the relaxed beauty of the city and you could easily spend much longer than an afternoon enjoying them.