zaterdag 8 oktober 2016

Bright lights, big city

Although I have blogged in some detail about the places I’ve been visiting on my travels, it dawned on me that I’ve never told you anything about the city I have been commuting to for well over twenty years and which I previously lived in for fifteen years: the beautiful city of Antwerp.

It is, of course, impossible to show you in one blog post all there is to see in a city of this size, so I will be regularly treating you to little glimpses, of its ordinariness as well as its fabulousness, with some quirky details thrown in.

My office is smack in the middle of the city, which - if I'm lucky - is a 45 minute commute from where I live.






This is the sight that greets me when I come up for air out of the metro.

The tall building is one of Europe's very first skyscrapers, built between 1929 and 1932, in Art Deco style.

It is called the "Boerentoren", literally meaning the "Farmer's Tower".










The tower got its nickname due to the fact that the most important shareholder at the time of construction was the Belgian Farmers' Cooperation. The official name of the tower is now the KBC tower as the current main tenant is the Belgian bank of that name.

In 1981, the building became a protected monument.

It is looking very striking, bathed in the amber autumn morning sunshine.


My office is on the fifth floor, on the back of the building you can see to the right of the tower in the first photo, its row of windows neatly framing the cityscape.


From this vantage point, the finer details of the "Boerentoren" can be admired.









I can also see part of Antwerp's majestic cathedral, built between 1352 and 1521, which dominates the city's skyline.

Our office building is at the far end of Antwerp's main shopping thoroughfare, called the Meir, a higgledy-piggledy mix of historic architecture, 1960s and 1970s glass and concrete boxes and some more recent buildings. The street has been pedestrianized since 1993, cars and delivery vans only being allowed until 11 am or after 7 pm.

The street, having all the major international chains which clutter most Belgian towns, offers only average shopping. Not much to write home about in that department ...


It pays to look above eye level though, as it’s there that most of the buildings’ unexpectedly lavish details can be found.

As a keen photographer, I'm always on the lookout for photo opportunities, but most people do not tend to look up, unless they're tourists. I like being a tourist in my own town!


These two buildings are on opposite corners of the side street which houses one of my favourite vintage shops. The Madonna statue on the white building originally adorned the wall of a fireworks shop a little further down the street, which was destroyed in an explosion in 1857.  Miraculously, the Madonna survived!

Halfway up the Meir, on the Wapper square, is the Rubens Housewhich can be visited, although tickets have to be bought at the glass box of a visitors centre cum museum shop in front of it. Rubens and his family lived at the house for well over 25 years and it is here that the artist created the lion’s share of his work. It is also where he died in 1640.


The museum's permanent collection contains a large number of works by the master himself and by his peers and contemporaries.

The house and garden, which is a reconstruction of the garden in Rubens's time, are well worth a visit in their own right.


I tried to divert the ticket collector's attention and take a sneaky picture of the courtyard, but he was watching me quite eagle-eyed, probably thinking I was about to come and steal one of Rubens's paintings.

A little further on along the Meir is Antwerp’s latest shopping centre in the beautifully restored Stadsfeestzaal, the city's festival hall.


The Stadsfeestzaal was completed in 1908 in neo-Classical and eclectic style. It was a popular venue for parties, balls, exhibitions and fairs.


After a fire destroyed the building in 2000, it was reconstructed in 2004. The glass dome with gold leaf, the staircase, mosaics, wall reliefs, original oak parquet floors and other elements have been restored to their former glory.


Directly opposite the Stadsfeestzaal is one of my favourites: a modernist building with art deco elements, which was completed in 1933.


This gem of a building, called Maison Tilquin, was purpose built for the shop of the same name, selling high-end quality cutlery and tableware, and has been protected since 1983.


It seems I have barely scratched the surface of all there is to see, even on this street alone, so I guess I will continue spending my lunch breaks pretending to be a tourist and braving the inevitable crowds for a while yet.

Oh, and here are some of the outfits I wore to work this week, including one of my favourite coats, which is definitely worth having chilly weather for!


Will be back soon with another installment ...

28 opmerkingen:

  1. Wow what gorgeous buildings! It's easy to get building blind when you work in a beautiful city for many years isn't it?

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    1. Definitely! I guess you're having the same with Oxford. I try to make an effort and look at Antwerp through a tourist's eyes. xxx

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  2. What beautiful buildings - and how cool is it that you work in an Art Deco skyscraper?

    Gisela's right, it's easy to get 'building blind' - I know I have with Bath. Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and play tourist.

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    1. Thanks Mim! I do not actually work in the skycraper but in the building opposite, so that I am able to enjoy all its details from my office window. Oh, you should definitely play the tourist in Bath, as you might come across one or two surprises, like I did in Antwerp ... xxx

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  3. Beautiful! At least you're surrounded by beauty once you get there. I work from home now, but I had a 45-minute to an hour commute (thanks to traffic) for most of the 21 years I worked in an office.

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    1. Thank you for visiting Stephanie. It must be a relief not to have that commute anymore. xxx

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  4. thank your very much!!
    antwerp looks gorgeous! that art deco skyscraper ist fantastic and the building for tilquin too!
    tres chic blue coat! fab with your colorful dresses and cardies!
    hugs! xxxxxx

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    1. My pleasure, Beate. There's so much more to see in Antwerp, it will keep me in blog posts for quite a while. xxx

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  5. Ooohh, what a dazzlingly lovely selection of yesteryear architecture. I love that you found a mid-century ad to go with one of these beautiful buildings.

    How fabulous are you in all of your stylish layered looks? You rock red, blue and green all so superbly well, dear Ann.

    Many hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I love browsing the Internet for accompanying ads like that ... xxx

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  6. Your outfits are always immaculately beautiful! I love them!x

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  7. Ooohh! What wonderful buildings you have. I really liked that first, sun-bathed picture of the 'skyscraper'.

    Reuben's house!! Gosh I would be there everyday! I think if his descendants were still around that they would jump at the chance to paint you in that blue coat!

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. I couldn't resist taking that first picture, as the light was amazing. There I was, in the middle of the street, first thing in the morning, taking out my camera amidst all the commuters ... xxx

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  8. Such beautiful buildings and then BAM! that gorgeous Maison Tilquin one at the end! Truly a work of Modernist art, absolutely stunning! xx

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    1. It is an amazing building, isn't it? It's an Italian clothing shop now, but they more or less kept the original interior. I'll try to take some photos, if they'll let me. xxx

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  9. Living as I do in a very young city, there isn't much of historical importance to observe, so I very much enjoy being given the tour of Antwerp.

    Love the blue coat and beautiful scarf.

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    1. Thanks Goody. I'm planning more posts on Antwerp's historical buildings soon ... xxx

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  10. ...Off I go, Googling flights to Antwerp!
    What a magnificent skyline, you work in a gorgeous building and the surroundings are stunning.
    Love all your ensembles especially the blue coat. xxx

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    1. You're always welcome, Vix. Antwerp's skyline can be appreciated even better from across the river. I must go and take a photo of it sometime ... xxx

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  11. Wow! Antwerp is a beautiful city. Now I have a rather nosey question...I'd love to know what you do Ann, partly out of sheer nosiness but also partly because of your workwear. You still go as 'you' to work, which is not possible in every profession. Don't answer if you'd rather not xxx

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    1. I'm office manager in a small office trading in pharmaceuticals, with a head office in Miami. There is no dress code whatsoever, so I'm quite lucky to be able to go to work as "me". xxx

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  12. Very, very nice pictures! I have an architectureal professiona so I´m always interested in buildings, interior architecture and design! Thanks a lot for sharing :)

    Love your colorful outfits. So many people wear black, brown and grey solors in fall and winter.

    have a nice week
    Dana

    https://danalovesfashionandmusic.blogspot.de

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    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving these lovely comments, Dana. xxx

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  13. Thanks for showing us some of the gorgeous sights of Antwerp through your amazing photos. There's a lot of buildings to choose from, but the Maison Tilquin caught my attention. It must have been such a modern and exiciting shop when it first opened. P.S. I'm happy its cardigan season too xx

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    1. You're welcome! I'll try and get some photos of the inside of the former Maison Tilquin as well. I'm glad someone else is glad that it's cardigan season too ... xxx

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  14. So much loveliness all in one post! My step dad always says you need to look up, and it's a habit I have long since adopted. The cathedral is stunning! xxx

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    1. Your stepdad was right! Can you believe you are actually the first one to comment on our cathedral? I am glad you did! I know I'm very lucky to have that particular view from my office window, in all kinds of weather. xxx

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