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Antwerp, Belgium

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Antwerp Central Railway Station

Antwerp Central Railway Station

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Antwerp City Hall

Antwerp City Hall

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Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp

Cathedral of Our Lady Antwerp

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Antwerp is Europe's second-largest port and has much of the zest often associated with a harbor town. But it also has an outsized influence in a very different realm: that of clothing design. Since the 1980s, Antwerp-trained fashion designers have become renowned for experimental styles paired with time-honored workmanship. Several designers, such as Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, stay firmly rooted in the city; others have filtered into major European couture houses. On their home turf, you can experience the fascinating mix of tradition and innovation that influences their work.In its heyday, Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish, Anvers in French) played second fiddle only to Paris. Thanks to artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens, it was one of Europe's leading art centers. Its printing presses produced missals for the farthest reaches of the Spanish empire. It became, and has remained, the diamond capital of the world. Its civic pride was such that the Antwerpen Sinjoren (patricians) considered themselves a cut above just about everybody else. They still do.

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Immigration Narration: Red Star Line Museum
Immigration Narration: Red Star Line Museum

Trace journeys and learn the stories of emigrés (Irving Berlin was one) fleeing repression. Reserve a “family suitcase” designed for young visitors.

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Getty Images

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A Bunch of Carats
A Bunch of Carats

Many of the world’s diamonds pass through Antwerp’s Diamond District. You can see cutters at work and buy sparklers at discounts.

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Corbis

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On the Cutting Edge
On the Cutting Edge

In an ultramodern red building, the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) tells Antwerp’s tale via eclectic collections. The roof offers great city views.

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Getty Images

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7 Travel Essentials

Find out why Samantha Brown recommends traveling with melatonin, comfy socks and other necessities.

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Step Into a Masterpiece
Step Into a Masterpiece

Renowned 17th-century artist Peter Paul Rubens lived in an Italian-inspired palazzo. It now is the Rubenshuis museum, packed with art and artifacts.

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Robert Fried/Alamy

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6 Must-See Bridges

On foot or via car, these attractions provide free and dramatic thrills.

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Largest Gothic Church in the Low Countries
Largest Gothic Church in the Low Countries

The mammoth Cathedral of Our Lady has been a work in progress since the 1100s. It mixes architectural styles and contains religious works by Rubens.

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Image Credit

Paul Thompson Images/Alamy

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A Stress-Free, Family Vacation? It's Possible!

Planning a multigenerational trip? Get practical advice from Samantha Brown for a fun-filled vacation your whole family will like.

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