Hidden courtyard in Antwerp

A nod to Antwerp’s ancient past is still visible in the architecture throughout the city. Not to be overlooked are the chunky brick buildings with little doors and secret alleyways that lead to hidden courtyards.

While many are residential, a few courtyards are accessible to the public via small shops and cafes. We took a peak down a little alley near the cathedral and immediately stepped back in time. Known as Vlaeykensgang, this lush, hidden courtyard is a gem that dates back to 1591 and leads to a small maze of alleyways. 

Historic Architecture in Antwerp

After arriving at Antwerp Central Station, we set out for a day of city exploration. Our visit to Antwerp was sunny, relaxing day trip filled with dramatic architecture, hidden alleyways and plenty of Belgian beers. One of my favorite parts of the day was getting lost in exploring the details of Antwerp's historic buildings which range in style from medieval to gothic, baroque and renaissance and my personal favorite, art nouveau.

Here's a collection of a few monumental buildings that caught my eye... 

Antwerp’s story features a long history, dating beyond the middle ages. The prosperous river port created a city that flourished in culture and trade. A successful diamond industry supported the affluent community that financed a thriving art scene, including painters like Rubens. Much of the architecture around the city center still reflects the Antwerp's dynamic history featuring medieval cobblestone alleyways, brick packhouses with wooden windows, and elaborate golden age architecture of the Grote Markt that shimmers in the sun. 

 

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Antwerp City Scenes

Antwerp is a busy metropolis with a cozy feel. With a condensed city center, Antwerp is easy to explore by foot, from extravagant squares to little church courtyards. You'll begin with maze of wide boulevards, condensed down to cobblestone streets filled with tram lines, busy boulevards and dozens of bicycles dashing by.

This chaotic scene slows down once you turn off the main road and step into the small city center. You'll find twisting, quiet streets that are perfect to wander, set to the dramatic backdrop of buildings from the flourishing golden-age.