't Stad

Antwerp city... otherwise known as 't Stad, is a city with staying power.  Quietly determined, she has stood here, growing, since Gallo Roman times, fighting off every kind of invader.  A steenezel perhaps but so solid.  Always solid, despite the Spanish, the Dutch, the Austrians, the Nazis and all kinds of other folk too, attempting to rule her.

The story goes that the city got its name via a legend that involved a mythical giant called Antigoon.  He lived near the Scheldt River and demanded a toll from those using the river.  If people refused, he cut off their hand and threw it into that river.  The giant was eventually killed by a hero called Brabo who, in the way of mythical stories, cut off that giant's hand and threw it into the river. 

Antwerpen or hand werpen, as in the Old English hand and wearpan (to throw), became the name of this city way back in those days when mythical giants existed ... somehow.

There are all kinds of other, more practical, stories regarding the name but this is my favourite.

Below is a glimpse of the famous river, giant-free, at sunset.  You can see the exquisite Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, (aka Cathedral of Our Lady) in the background.  Construction finished way back in 1521.  The one finished spire stands at 123 metres (404 ft) high, and is the highest church tower in the Benelux.  The largest bell in the tower requires 16 bell ringers.

It's a city where I've been lucky to find all the pretty ways home because there are pretty ways.  And I do love the ancient heart of the city, its perfectly walkable, cobblestoned and full of all kinds of surprises.  It's as quirky as you can imagine. Let me show you.