The baroque delights of Antwerp

Historic Antwerp is opening its gilded stucco doors to lovers of Europe’s most decadent style

Antwerp was once the mighty cog that turned world trade. Sitting at the mouth of the River Scheldt, it dominated international 16th-century markets in sugar, spices and textiles. Today it is still an improbably cosmopolitan place for its size, but is better known for its international diamond business and, less alluringly, as the port that sucks in more cocaine than any other. It recently overtook London as cocaine capital of Europe.

The city was also famed for its great Flemish art, from the huge religious panels of Rubens to the royal portraits by Van Dyck and all those detailed still life tables, laden with silverware, meat and fruit.

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