Central Station - Astridplein - Diamonds, Antwerp
The Antwerpen Central Railway Station, or in Flemish "Antwerpen Centraal Station", is located in the Diamond District, which means that the Central Station is not quite centrally located, and it's definitely not the Center of the World - that title has been reserved for Perpignan's Central Railway Station. Now this may sound a little disappointing to the traveler who made a special effort to arrive in Antwerpen by train. You'll be in for a big surprise. Antwerpen's Central Railway Station is unique! It's the only train station that looks like a cathedral - not so much from the outside but more so from the inside. I think it may have been Antwerpen's original cathedral before it relocated to Groenplats (Green Square). So what was left of it has been turned into a railway station that became the Central Railway Station. It sure is impressively philosophical. It gives you an almost religious feeling that life is a journey and that you'd better not miss your train.
Also known as the Diamond Quarter also dubbed the square mile.It consists of several square blocks covering an area of one mile,over 12000 Gemcutters and polishers work within the district.80% of the World's rough diamonds pass through this area every year,making it the largest diamond centre in the World.There are 380 workshops that serve 1500 companies with 3500 brokers and merchants.The district is dominated by Jewish and Indian dealers,known as diamantaires.more than 80% of Antwerp's Jews work in the diamond trade,Yiddish was historically the main language of the diamond exhange.no business is conducted on Saturdays.My hotel the 'Century' is located in the district.
The area adjacent to Central Station is home to both the Jewish and Diamond Quarter of Antwerp, and it's no coincidence that they're both together.
After the end of World War 2 Belgian Jewish survivors, along with others from Eastern Europe,settled in Antwerp and became involved with the Diamond trade. More than 80% of the city's 15,000 or so Jews are involved with Diamonds in one way or another, but during the last decade the Indian community has had a bigger stake in the business due to its cheaper production costs in India.
Diamonds account for around 7% of Belgium's exports with some 85% of the world's rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds and 40% of industrial diamonds being traded in Antwerp each year-many of the deals being concluded in Yiddish.
For a visitor to the area there are scores of Diamond Shops tempting you to part with your money but the Diamond Museum has recently closed down. Orthodox Jews are commonplace and there are several synagogues that can be visited, but if this isn't different enough for you, you could always head to the other end of Astridplein and visit the Chinese Quarter or even the zoo which is next to the station on the other side of the square.
Central Station is Antwerp's main railway station and is operated by NMBS(National Railway Company).The original building was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the original terminus of the Brussels -Mechelen-Antwerp Railway.The stone clad terminus building,with a vast dome above the waiting room hall were designed by 'Louis Delacenserie' and the vast (185 metres long and 44 metres high) iron and glass trainshed by 'Clement van Bogaert'.The viaduct into the station is also a notable structure designed by local architect 'Jan Van Asperen'.The station is finely regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium.In 2009 American magazine 'Newsweek' judged Antwerp- Central the World's fourth greatest train station.
When you decide to visit Antwerp by train you are in for a treat on arrival. The station hall is a great building dating from 1905. It is a beautiful example of station architecture for this time. Upon arrival there is an almost majestic feel about this building. I think it is a fabulous introduction to Antwerp.
The vast majority of people who visit Antwerp arrive at the Central train station... modern and state of the art station with all the needs for travelers !!! Just be aware of your surroundings, this place is made for pickpockets !!! Otherwise at great place to see people !!!!
Located on "Astridplein" in Antwerp you find the historical entrance of Antwerp's central station. This station is very special because of the eclectic building style. This style is a combination of historical treasures and modern elements. The trains enter and leave the station on three floors. The present meets the past via a steel roofing that covers the platforms. The roofing is 186m long and 43m high. This is the most interesting train station I have ever seen.
One of the grandest buildings in Antwerp is the 'Central Station'. It welcomes visitors who arrive by train in Antwerp like a modern day cathedral. The part of the station where the platforms are is covered by an immense metal and glass dome (typical for turn-of-the-century railway stations in Europe), designed by architect Van Bogaert. The station building itself was designed between 1895 and 1905 by architect Delacenserie. Here ends the oldest railway line in Belgium (between Brussels and Antwerp over the city of Mechelen).
Antwerp's airport is too small and has way too little flights to even consider flying into the city from most of the places. In addition, Antwerp's Central Station is Belgium's finest and arguably one of the most magnificent in Europe. Train is therefore the best and most convenient way to reach central Antwerp.
Arriving in the Central Station, the first impressions of the city will not leave the visitor indifferent, as the building is a great example of turn-of-the century iron-cast architecture, with a sumptuous hall crowned by a big dome. Based on the plans by Louis De la Censerie, the station boasts a rather eclectic style which recalls the splendorous Renaissance architecture of the city's golden age in the 16th-century, incorporating some Art Nouveau elements which were en vogue at the time.
Belgium was in fact a pioneering country in the history of railways, as the first railway line in continental Europe was set between Brussels and Mechlin as early as 1835. The railway arrived to Antwerp a few years later and although the first Central Station building is not the one we see today, it is a dign reminder of the most glorious era of the rail history.
Until very recently, this used to be a terminus station, but an underground tunnel has just been opened, which allows trains to cross the city towards the Netherlands shortening travel times considerably.
It is located in the heart of the diamond center at Konigin Astridplein. The museum entrance ticket entitles every visitor to an audio guide and diamond card, which allows them to go on a "diamond quest" in search of their "personal" diamond.
One of the most beautiful train stations I ever saw, it was the first building I visited in Antwerp and it is also my favourite.
It is definetely an impressive welcome to the tourist arriving in the city by train!
Just out of curiosity, it was used in the British television series 'Hercule Poirot', but it had its name changed to 'Gare de Bruxelles'...
The main railway station in Antwerp is currently undergoing large-scale reconstruction work that has been underway since 1998. Though not the most modern, it is the most beautiful train station in Belgium.
Antwerps train station, dating from 1905, is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Its outstanding architecture gave it the nickname “railway cathedral”. The dome, made of glass and steel, makes the main hall look like a building inside a building. Currently (2006), larger restauration and construction works are going on – so enjoy at least every visible part of this outrageous building.
Centraal Station is the main train station in Antwerp but even if you are not arriving by train it is worth taking a look inside if you are in the area. The station dates to the turn of the century and is quite grand like many of the major train stations in Europe. The entrance hall has a beautiful peacock shaped glass window, I have a picture attached but it's too dark to show the grandeur of the interior. We didn't go past the entrance hall but you should head to where the platforms are to see that as well, a couple of nice pictures of the interior can be seen here
The guidebooks warn that the area around Centraal Station, like many other cities in Europe, is a little seedy, with drug problems and prostitution. I did see a rather buxom transvestite while over near the station but we didn't encounter any trouble. It's probably a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings while near here and exercise caution after dark.
Arriving by train allows visitors to be greeted in Antwerp by the railway cathedral, Antwerp’s Central Train Station. No need to look for attractions, soon after you arrive, you’ll find yourself in a domed reception hall decorated with more than 20 different kinds of marble and stone. Designed by the Bruges architect Delacenserie, the station building was completed in 1905. Recent renovations have modernized the station without loosing its century old charm.