Even the New York Times agrees: Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish, Anvers in French) is Europe's place to be. Appreciated by mode moguls, club queens, art lovers and diamond dealers, Belgium's capital of cool and the country's second-biggest city once again revels in fame and fortune.
Antwerp has a rollcall of drawing cards. Start with its manageable size and timeless quality. The old city centre, built around the country's most impressive cathedral, is as beautiful and intimate as it was centuries ago. Tucked away in cobbled lanes and backstreets are thousands of restaurants and bars, antique shops, art galleries, exclusive chocolate outlets, designer boutiques and diamond shops where Antwerpenaars enjoy spending money.
The whole city is something of an architectural museum, from the medieval riverside fortress to modern waterfront creations and the famous Cogels-Osylei, where architects ran riot. Most distinctive is its Gothic and Flemish baroque architecture; it was the home of Pieter Paul Rubens, northern Europe's greatest baroque artist. A visit to his home and studio in the city centre gives fabulous insight into the painter's personal life, after which you can track down some of his most acclaimed works in churches and museums dotted around the city.
Antwerp's role as a celebrated fashion hub means it's a magnet for shoppers. For a city of its size, it boasts an astonishing number of world-acclaimed fashion designers and many have set up boutiques here. Designer-led stores buzz with shoppers looking for the latest in hip clothing and accessories.
On the backbone of the fashion and growing gay scenes, Antwerp's club culture has expanded. The city runs on party time. Club extravaganzas burst out in summer and the nightly scene in the regenerated docklands to the north and south of town beat to the coolest vibes.
It doesn't end there. The world's largest diamond-cutting industry operates behind discreet façades in the Jewish neighbourhood. In the sailors' quarter just north of the city centre, bored women sit framed in red lights while itinerant Philippino, Sri Lankan and East European seaman wander the seedy streets. Turkish, African and Chinese communities live northwest of Franklin Rooseveltplaats, ultratrendy style victims have taken over the fashion district, and businessmen and upper-class Flemish hang out around Koning Albertpark.
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/belgium/flanders/antwerp#ixzz2WAjYf5TZ
Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company
In 1879 Gardiner Hubbard, father-in-law of Alexander Graham Bell and the first president of the Bell Telephone Company, founded the International Bell Telephone Company in order to promote sales of its telephone equipment throughout Europe. During his tour of the continent, the Belgian government offered him the greatest financial incentives to establish his European subsidiary's headquarters in their country. The Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company (BTMC) was opened in Antwerp on 26 April 1882 as the principal manufacturing arm to assist International Bell with its growth throughout all of Europe, where many countries had nationalistic trade policies favouring domestic suppliers. More then 130 years later, the company, which was rebranded in the meantime into Alcatel-Lucent Bell NV, is still present in Antwerp. The old office at the Francis Wellesplein have been exchanged in 2006 for brand new offices at the Kievitplein, next to the Central Railway station.