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Antwerp ( , Dutch: , ) is a city and municipality in Belgiummarker and the capital of the Antwerp provincemarker in Flanders, one of Belgium's three regions.Antwerp's total population is 472,071 (as of 1 January 2008) and its total area is , giving a population density of 2,308 inhabitants per km². The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of with a total of 1,190,769 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

Antwerp has long been an important city in the nations of theBeneluxboth economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Furyof the Dutch Revolt. It is located on the right bank of the river Scheldtmarker, which is linked to the North Seamarker by the estuary Westerscheldemarker.


Origin of the name

According to folklore, and as celebrated by the statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend involving a mythical giant called Antigoon who lived near the river Scheldtmarker.He exacted a toll from those crossing the river, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river Scheldt. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabomarker, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river.Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutchhand werpen—akin to Old English handand wearpan(= to throw), that has changed to today's warp.

In favour of this folk etymology is the fact that hand-cutting was indeed practised in Europe, the right hand of a man who died without issue being cut off and sent to the feudal lord as proof of main-morte.However, John Lothrop Motleyargues that Antwerp's name derives from an 't werf(on the wharf).Aan 't werp(at the warp) is also possible. This 'warp' (thrown ground) would be a man made hill, just high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a farm would be built. Another word for werp is pol(hence polders).

The most prevailing theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpiawould come from Ante(before) Verpia(deposition, sedimentation), indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river. Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 to 750, followed a different track. This must have coincided roughly with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river.


The historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicuscivilization. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952-1961 (ref. Princeton), pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-second century to the end of the third century.

In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named, having been settled by the GermanicFranks. The name was reputed to have been derived from "anda"(at) and "werpum"(wharf).

The MerovingianAntwerp, now fortified, was evangelized by Saint Amandin the seventh century. At the end of the tenth century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate, a border province facing the County of Flanders.

In the eleventh century Godfrey of Bouillonwas for some years best known as marquisof Antwerp. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xantenestablished a community of his Premonstratensian canonsat St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes.

Antwerp was the headquarters of Edward IIIduring his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the earl of Cambridge, was born there in 1338.

16th century

After the closing of the Zwinmarker and the consequent decline of Brugesmarker, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, became of importance.At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Brugesmarker to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the English nation is specifically mentioned in 1510.

Fernand Braudelstates that Antwerp became "the center of the entireinternational economy—something Bruges had never been even at its height." Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. Antwerp's "Golden Age" is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". Over the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second-largest European city north of the Alpsby 1560. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Francesco Guicciardini, the Venetian envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2,000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepperand cinnamonwould unload their cargo.

Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very international, with merchants and traders from Venicemarker, Ragusamarker, Spain and Portugal.Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large orthodox Jewishcommunity. Antwerp was not a "free" city though, since it had been reabsorbed into the duchy of Brabant in 1406 and was controlled from Brusselsmarker.

Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age, the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, in 1559, based on the textiles industry. The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers.

The religious revolution of the Reformationerupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Netherlands. The regent Margaret, duchess of Parma, was swept aside when Philip IIsent the Duke of Albaat the head of an army the following summer. When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1572, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbaomarker was not possible.On November 4, 1576, the Spanish soldiers plundered the city. During the Spanish Fury6000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over two millions sterling of damage was done.

Antwerp became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siegeand as part of the terms of surrender its Protestantcitizens were given two years to settle their affairs before quitting the city. Most went to the United Provincesin the north. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoamarker, and Amsterdammarker became the new trading centre.

17th-19th centuries

Map of Antwerp, its buildings and the march.
The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the Treaty of Münster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldtmarker should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities.This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands(1815 to 1830). Antwerp had reached the lowest point of its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned two million to enlarge the harbor by constructing two docks and a mole and deepening the Scheldt to allow for larger ships to approach Antwerp. Napoleon hoped that by making Antwerp's harbor the finest in Europe he would be able to counter London's harbor and stint English growth, but he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloomarker before he could see the plan through.

In 1830, the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time Chassé subjected the town to periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by a French army. During this attack the town was further damaged. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender.

20th century

Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903. During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liègemarker.It was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westward.

Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. During World War II, the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British 11th Armoured Divisionon September 4, 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerpmarker, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore.Thousands of V-1and V-2missiles battered the city. The city was hit by more V-2s than all other targets during the entire war combined, but the attack did not succeed in destroying the port since many of the missiles fell upon other parts of the city. As a result, the city itself was severely damaged and rebuilt after the war in a modern style. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European center of Haredi(and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.

Historical population

Population time-line of Antwerp.
This is the population of the city of Antwerp only, not of the larger current municipality of the same name.


Districts of Antwerp.
The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. It is divided into nine entities (districts):
  1. Antwerp marker
  2. Berchemmarker
  3. Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillomarker
  4. Borgerhoutmarker
  5. Deurnemarker
  6. Ekerenmarker
  7. Hobokenmarker
  8. Merksemmarker
  9. Wilrijkmarker

Buildings, landmarks and museums

In the 16th century, Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens ("Antwerpia nummis"); the houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic Leagueon the northern quays in 1891. The city also suffered considerable war damage by V-bombs, and in recent years other noteworthy buildings were demolished for new developments.


Het Steen (literally: 'The Stone').

Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, nothing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel defended by General Chassé in 1832, except for the Steenmarker, which has been restored.Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications. After the establishment of Belgian independence, Antwerp was defended by the citadel and an enceinte around the city. In 1859, seventeen of the twenty-two fortresses constructed under Wellington's supervision in 1815–1818 were dismantled and the old citadel and enceinte were removed. A new enceinte long was constructed, and the villages of Berchemmarker and Borgerhoutmarker, now boroughs of Antwerp, were absorbed within the city.

This enceinte is protected by a broad wet ditch, and in the caponiersare the magazines and store chambers of the fortress. The enceinte has nineteen openings or gateways, but of these seven are not used by the public. As soon as the enceinte was finished eight detached forts from 2 to 2-½ miles from the enceinte were constructed. They begin on the north near Wijnegemmarker and the zone of inundation, and terminate on the south at Hobokenmarker.In 1870 Fort Merksemmarker and the redoubts of Berendrechtmarker and Oorderenmarker were built for the defence of the area to be inundated north of Antwerp.

In the 1870s, the fortifications of Antwerp were deemed to be out of date, given the increased range and power of artillery and explosives. Antwerp was transformed into a fortified position by constructing an outer line of forts and batteries 6 to from the enceinte.


According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the port of Antwerpmarker was the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only to Rotterdam in Europe.Importantly it handles high volumes of economically attractive generaland project cargo, as well as bulk cargo. Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houstonmarker, Texasmarker.Electricity generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doelmarker, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants.There are plans for a wind farmin a disused area of the docklands.

The old Belgian bluestone quays bordering the Scheldtmarker for a distance of to the north and south of the city centre have been retained for their sentimental value and are used mainly by cruise ships and short-sea shipping.

Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamondtrade. The city has four diamond bourse: one for bortand three for gem quality goods. Since World War IIfamilies of the large Hasidic Jewish communityhave dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indianand Armeniantraders become increasingly important.Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry.



A motorway bypass encircles much of the city centre. Known locally as the "Ring" it offers motorway connections to Brusselsmarker, Hasseltmarker and Liègemarker, Ghentmarker, Lillemarker and Brugesmarker and Bredamarker and Bergen op Zoommarker (Netherlands).The banks of the Scheldt are linked by three road tunnels(in order of construction): the Waasland Tunnel (1934), the Kennedy Tunnel (1967) and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel (1991). Currently a fourth high volume highway link called "Oosterweelconnection" is in the tendering stage. It will entail the construction of a long viaduct and bridge (the Lange Wapper Bridge) over the Scheldt on the north side of the city. The completion date is as yet uncertain. The cost of the connection is estimated at 2.2 billion euro.


Antwerp is the focus of lines to the north to Essen and the Netherlands, east to Turnhout, south to Mechelen, Brussels and Charleroi via Luttremarker, and southwest to Ghent and Ostend.

It is served by international trains to Amsterdammarker and Paris, and national trains to Ghentmarker, Brugesmarker, Ostendmarker, Brusselsmarker, Charleroimarker, Hasseltmarker, Liègemarker and Turnhoutmarker.

Its Central stationmarker is an architectural monument in itself, and is mentioned in W G Sebald's haunting novel Austerlitz.Prior to the completion in 2007 of a tunnel that runs northwards under the city centre to emerge at the old Antwerp Dam station, Centraal was a terminus. Trains to the Netherlands either had to reverse at Centraal or call only at Berchem station, 2 km to the south, and then describe a semicircle to the east, round the Singel.

City transportation

The city has a web of tram and bus lines operated by De Lijnand providing access to the city centre, suburbs and the Left Bank. The tramnetwork has 12 lines, of which the underground section is called the "premetro" and includes a tunnel under the river.


Antwerp International Airportmarker is in the district of Deurnemarker.VLM Airlines flies to London (City Airport) and Manchestermarker in England.VLM is the only airline with scheduled air services to and from Antwerp International Airport. The airport is connected by bus to the city center.

Brussels Airportmarker is about 45 km from the city of Antwerp, and connects the city worldwide.The airport is connected by bus and by train to the city centre of Antwerp


Antwerp had an artistic reputation in the 17th century, based on its school of painting, which included Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, the two Teniersand many others. Informally, most Antverpians (in Dutch Antwerpenaren, people from Antwerp) daily speak Antverpian (in Dutch Antwerps), a dialect that Dutch-speakers know as distinctive from other Brabanticdialects through its typical vowel pronunciations: approximating the vowel sound in 'bore'— for one of its long 'a'-sounds while other short 'a's are very sharp like the vowel sound in 'hat'. The Echt Antwaarps Teater("Authentic Antverpian Theatre") brings the dialect on stage.


Antwerp is a rising fashion city, and has produced designers such as the Antwerp Six. The city has a cult status in the fashion world, due to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important fashion academies in Europe. It has served as the learning centre for a large number of Belgian fashion designers. Since the 1980s, several graduates of the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts have become internationally successful fashion designers in Antwerp.

Local products

Antwerp is famous for its local products and in August every year the Bollekesfeesttakes place. The Bollekesfeest is a showcase for such local products as beer from the De Koninck Brewery, better known in Antwerp as a "Bolleke", the Mokatinesweets made by Confiserie Roodthooft, Elixir D'Anvers, a locally-made liqueur, locally roasted coffee from Koffie Verheyen, sugar from Candico, Poolsterpickled herring, Equinoxhorse meat, and others. The local products are represented by a non-profit making organisation, Streekproducten Provincie Antwerpen vzw.



The major sport clubare K.F.C.Germinal Beerschotand R.Antwerp F.C.(football) and Antwerp Diamond Giants(basketball).

Orthodox Jewish population

After the Holocaustand the destruction of its many semi-assimilated Jews, Antwerp became a major centre for Orthodox Jews. At present, about 15,000 HarediJews, mostly Hasidic, live in Antwerp. The city has three official Jewish Congregations: Shomrei Hadass, headed by Rabbi Dovid Moishe Lieberman, Machsike Hadass, headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Sternbuch (formerly Chief Rabbi Chaïm Kreiswirth) and the Portuguese Community Bne Moshe. Antwerp has an extensive network of synagogues, shops, schools and organizations, within the Machsike Hadas community. Significant Hasidic movements in Antwerp include Pshevorsk, based in Antwerp, as well as branches of Satmar, Belzmarker, Bobov, Ger, Skver, Klausenburg and several others.Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, chief rabbi of the Machsike Hadas community, who died in 2003, was arguably one of the better known personalities to have been based in Antwerp. An attempt to have a street named after him has received the support of the Town Hall and is in the process of being implemented.

Missions to seafarers

A number of Christian missions to seafarers are based in Antwerp, notably on the Italiëlei. These include the Mission to Seafarers, British & International Sailors’ Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, the Norwegian Sjømannskirkenand the Apostleship of the Sea. They provide cafeterias, cultural and social activities as well as religious services.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

The following places are twinned with or sister citiesto Antwerp:


Within the context of development cooperation, Antwerp is also linked to:

Notable people from Antwerp

Born in Antwerp

Abraham Ortelius.
Hendrik Conscience

Lived in Antwerp

Joachim Patinir.
Wenceslas Hollar.

Specific areas in Antwerp

  • Den Dam – an area in northern Antwerp
  • Linkeroever - an area on the left bank of the Scheldt with a lot of apartment buildings
  • Meirmarker – Antwerp's largest shopping street
  • Seefhoek - an area in north-east Antwerp, situated around the Stuyvenbergplein
  • Van Wesenbekestraatmarker – the Chinatown of Antwerp
  • Zuid – the south of Antwerp
  • Zurenborgmarker

See also


  1. Statistics Belgium; Population de droit par commune au 1 janvier 2008 (excel-file) Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of 1 January 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
  2. Statistics Belgium; De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001 (pdf-file) Definitions of metropolitan areas in Belgium. The metropolitan area of Antwerp is divided into three levels. First, the central agglomeration (agglomeratie) with 715,301 inhabitants (2008-01-01). Adding the closest surroundings (banlieue) gives a total of 955,338. And, including the outer commuter zone (forensenwoonzone) the population is 1,190,769. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
  3. Brabo Antwerpen 1 (centrum) / Antwerpen
  4. Antwerp Tourist Information - Meredith Booney, "The name 'Antwerp' has been linked to the word "aanwerp" (alluvial mound), which was the geographical feature in the early settlement period in this place".
  5. Brittanica: Antwerp
  6. (Braudel 1985 p. 143.)
  7. Boxer Charles Ralph, The Dutch seaborne empire, 1600-1800, p. 18, Taylor & Francis, 1977 ISBN 0091310512, 9780091310516 Google books
  8. Antwerp timeline 1300-1399
  9. Antwerp timeline 1400-1499
  10. Braudel, Fernand The Perspective of the World, 1985
  11. Antwerp timeline 1500-1599
  12. Description of circumstances around the French Fury, see chapter 'Declaration of independence' in article 'William the Silent'
  13. Antwerp timeline 1600-1699
  14. Antwerp timeline 1700-1799
  15. Antwerp timeline 1800-1899
  16. Antwerp timeline 1900-1999
  17. Emporis. Retrieved October 23, 2006.


  • Carolus Scribani, Origines Antwerpiensium, 1610
  • Gens, Histoire de la ville d'Anvers
  • F.H. Mertens, K.L. Torfs, Geschiedenis van Antwerpen sedert de stichting der. stad tot onze tyden, vol. 7, Antwerp 1853
  • J. L. Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1856
  • P. Génard, Anvers à travers les ages
  • Annuaire statistique de la Belgique
  • Richard Stillwell, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, 1976: "Antwerp Belgium"

External links

Foreground: Statue of the giant's hand being thrown into the Scheldt River.
Background: Town hall
Grote Markt
  • 1374: 18,000
  • 1486: 40,000
  • 1500: around 44/49,000 inhabitants
  • 1526: 50,000
  • 1567: 105,000 (90,000 permanent residents and 15,000 "floating population", including foreign merchants and soldiers. At the time only 10 cities in Europe reached this size.)
  • 1575: around 100,000 (after the Inquisition)
  • 1584: 84,000 (after the Spanish Fury, the French Fury and the Calvinistic republic)
  • 1586 (May): 60,000 (after siege)
  • 1586 (October): 50,000
  • 1591: 46,000
  • 1612: 54,000
  • 1620: 66,000 (Twelve Years' Truce)
  • 1640: 54,000 (after the Black Death epidemics)
  • 1700: 66,000
  • 1765: 40,000
  • 1784: 51,000
  • 1800: 45,500
  • 1815: 54,000
  • 1830: 73,500
  • 1856: 111,700
  • 1880: 179,000
  • 1900: 275,100
  • 1925: 308,000
  • 1959: 260,000
Statue of Brabo and the giant's hand
Antwerp lawcourts

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