If Belgium is on your list of travel destinations, do not miss out on the opportunity to see the city of Antwerp, located in Flanders. Known for its culturally rich architecture, and prominent fashion presence, Antwerp is home to a population of over 500,000 residents, giving it the title of the most prosperous city in Belgium. From the 15th to 17th century, Flanders was the dominating presence in Western Europe when it came to art, even inspiring some of the largest art movements in history, including Baroque, Primitive, and Renaissance.
The Flemish Masters Project of 2018-2020 begins in Antwerp, home to Peter-Paul Rubens, one of the largest and most well-known of the Flemish Masters and the project’s cornerstone while in Antwerp. The Flemish Masters Project focuses on the life and legacy of several 15th, 16th and 17th century artists who were based in Flanders, particularly Rubens, Bruegel and the Flemish Primitives, including Van Eyck. Though these works can be admired from anywhere, bringing the setting to Flanders, where these works were created, is the most powerful setting to experience them. In 2019 the project travels to Brussels and focuses on Bruegel; From there, it goes to Ghent in 2020 to focus on Van Eyck.
Stylistically, Rubens is recognized for his Baroque art, with emphasize on his use of movement and color. Spending most of his time in Antwerp, reminders of Rubens can be seen and felt all around the city. The Rubens House, former home of Rubens, is a beautiful Baroque-style building where one can spend the afternoon perusing through his studio. You could also see much of his work scattered throughout other buildings and activities in Antwerp: Museum Plantin-Moretus, for example, houses on display 24 title pages, illustrations, and even portraits of the Moretus family completed by Peter-Paul Rubens, a longtime childhood friend of Balthasar Moretus.
If you are looking for something a bit more involved in our current day and age, spend some time browsing the seven shopping districts located throughout Antwerp. Because of its skyrocketing popularity as a fashion city, it is no surprise the shopping options are almost as extravagant as the centuries-old art.
Containing over 40 different stores and boutiques, Shopping Stadsfeestzaal on the Meir is more than just storefront; after suffering a detrimental fire in 2000, the glass dome with gold leaf, the staircase, mosaics, wall reliefs, original oak parquet floors and other elements have been restored to their former glory, dating all the way back to 1908. Or, for a tasty mid-day treat, pop on over to the Antwerp City Brewery. Not only do guests get to hear and see the story of the brewery, but it also houses a culinary food court; you can taste cheeses, meats, breads, and even chocolate hailing from the area.