There are few days as idyllic as cycling through the charming streets of Antwerp, perhaps even stopping for a taste of delicious Belgian chocolates or waffles (really, who could blame you?)

Join AmaWaterways for a guided bike tour through the streets and sights of this bustling Flemish city. Along the way, we’ll see some of Antwerp’s most impressive historical sights in a region already rich with history.

Antwerp’s large seaport (the second largest in Europe and in the top 20 world-wide) made it a major financial center in its golden age heyday in the early 16th century. Already the sugar capitol of Europe, Antwerp enjoyed a booming banking business and was known for its world-class art, culture and policies of religious tolerance. However, beginning in the mid-1500s, wars and religious revolutions (particularly the Reformation) took their toll on the city. Centuries later, Napoleon helped to revive interest in the city’s port (and the dock named after the general still remains).

Now a thriving and vibrant city once again (the second largest in Belgium), Antwerp’s magnificent history (and periods of splendor) is on full display in buildings with varied architectural styles.

The Cogels Osylei is a perfect example of this. Located in the Berchem neighborhood of Antwerp, a majority of the townhouses that line this street are in the magnificent Art Nouveau style. Built at the turn of the last century between 1894-1908, these stunning buildings are listed on the architectural heritage list of Flanders. Part of the so-called Art Nouveau “golden triangle,” the street also offers homes built in other fin-de-siècle styles popular during the time, such as Gothic Revival, Neo-Renaissance, Neoclassical and others to delight fans of architecture and design.

On nearby Waterloostraat, houses commemorate the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. Of all the homes, the so-called Waterloo House (Waterloostraat 11) may be the most iconic, decorated with glazed ceramic panels depicting Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington. A mosaic showing bayonets, flags, cannons and drums further add to the elaborate design at the top of the home.

The Sint Jacobskerk, often referred to as either the St. Jacob’s or St. James’ Church, is a 15th century Gothic Church which, because of its many years of construction, was designed with a Baroque interior. It is the final resting place of Flemish master painter Peter Paul Rubens, known for his iconic paintings of female nudes—and even houses original works by the artist himself, including the altarpiece that stands in Rubens own burial chapel.

Cycling is the perfect way to see sights like these, giving an authentic experience of what daily life is like for those that live in this stunning city!

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