We sailed up the River Schelde towards Antwerp in the early morning. The mouth of the river is actually bordered on both sides by the Netherlands. Once we sailed into Belgium we found ourselves amongst a large industrial complex, dominated by oil refineries. Indeed, Antwerp has the largest oil refining facilities in the world next to Houston, Texas.
Once we docked we could see that we were very close to the old centre of the city, dominated by the Catholic Cathedral of our Lady spire. Many of us took advantage of a guided walk through the old city, a highlight of which was the Rubens mansion. Here are a few images to give you a flavour of this amazing city.
A prominent feature of the central square is the bronze statue of Brabo. Legend has it that the giant “Antigoon” charged for passage across the river and those who did not pay had their hand cut off and thrown into the river by the giant. Brabo, saved the day by doing the same to the giant. The bronze features the young hero Brabo holding the hand of the giant, throwing it away into the river. The coat of arms of the city features two hands to commemorate this legend.