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, province, Belgium
Antwerp (ănˈtwûrp), Du. Antwerpen, Fr. Anvers, province, 1,104 sq mi (2,859 sq km), N Belgium, bordering on the Netherlands in the north. Antwerp (the provincial capital) and Mechelen are the chief cities. The province is largely a flat, cultivated plain, drained by the Scheldt River and its tributaries and served by the Albert Canal. It is mostly Dutch-speaking and was part of the duchy of Brabant.


, city, Belgium

Antwerp, Du. Antwerpen, Fr. Anvers, city (2020 pop. 1,042,000), capital of Antwerp prov., N Belgium, on the Scheldt River. It is one of the busiest ports in Europe; a commercial, industrial, and financial center; and a rail junction. The city is linked with industrial E Belgium (especially Liège) by the Albert Canal and has a large transit trade to and from Germany (especially the Ruhr district). Manufactures of Antwerp and its surrounding region include refined petroleum, petrochemicals, dyes, photographic supplies, leather goods, and processed food. In addition, the city is a major international center of the diamond trade, has large shipyards, and is the seat of the world's first stock exchange (founded 1460).

The artistic fame of Antwerp dates from the rule (15th cent.) of Philip the Good of Burgundy, who founded an academy of painting. The painters Quentin Massys and Peter Paul Rubens resided in the city, and Anthony Van Dyck was born there. Many of their works are in the museums and churches of Antwerp. Christophe Plantin made (16th cent.) the city a center of printing; his house is a museum.

Among Antwerp's many splendid structures are the large Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame (14th–16th cent.), with a spire c.400 ft (122 m) high; the churches of St. James (containing the tomb of Rubens) and St. Paul (both 16th cent.); the Renaissance-style city hall (mid-16th cent.); Rubens's house (now a museum); and old guildhalls lining the Groote Markt [marketplace]. Antwerp also has a zoological garden, a noted school of music, and a museum (2012) that spotlights the city's rich history.


Antwerp was a small trading center by the early 8th cent. It was destroyed by the Normans in 836, but by the 11th cent. it was a fairly important port. The city was chartered in 1291. Antwerp was held (13th to mid-14th cent.) by Brabant and then became an early seat of the counts of Flanders. In the 15th cent. it rose to prominence as Bruges and Ghent declined. In 1446 the English Merchant Adventurers and other traders motivated port trade by moving their operations from Bruges to Antwerp. By the middle of the 16th cent. Antwerp was Europe's chief commercial and financial center with spices, gold, and other luxury goods from the East and the Americas arriving at its ports. The diamond industry, established in the 15th cent., had expanded considerably after the arrival (early 16th cent.) of Jewish artisans expelled from Portugal. The city's prosperity suffered in 1576, when it was sacked and about 6,000 of its inhabitants killed by Spanish troops (the “Spanish fury”), and again in 1584–85, when the city was captured by the Spanish under Alessandro Farnese after a 14-month siege.

Under the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the Scheldt was closed to navigation (as a means of favoring Amsterdam), and Antwerp declined rapidly. The city revived with the opening of the Scheldt by the French in 1795 and with the expansion of its port facilities by Napoleon I. The incorporation (1815) of Belgium into the Netherlands again hindered Antwerp's economic development, a situation that was continued by the Dutch-Belgian treaty of separation (1839), which gave the Netherlands the right to collect tolls on Scheldt shipping. The expansion of Antwerp as a major modern port dates only from 1863, when, by a cash payment, Belgium ended Dutch restrictions on traffic on the Scheldt. Antwerp was seriously damaged in World War I when it was captured (Oct., 1914) by the Germans after a 12-day siege. In World War II it was again taken (May, 1940) by the Germans, who bombarded it heavily after it had been recaptured (Sept., 1944) by the Allies.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Flemish, Antwerpen; French, Anvers), city in northern Belgium, on the navigable Scheldt River and the Albert Canal, 90 km from the shore of the North Sea. It is one of the largest ports of the world. It is the administrative center of Antwerp province and the second most populous city in the country (after Brussels)—239,800 inhabitants (1967). Including environs, the total population is 675,300.

Foreign trade and finance have a large role in the economy of Antwerp. It is a junction for international naval communications. The port is enormous, including freight harbors and ocean basins, joined by canals, its own railway network, and 45 km of berthing. Freight turnover reaches 60 million tons a year (1967), about one-third of which is international transit shipping. Industries in Antwerp are for the most part connected with the processing of imported raw materials and the servicing of navigation. The most important branches include shipbuilding and other branches of machine building, non-ferrous metallurgy, oil refining, diamond cutting, and chemical, textile, and food industries.

The city, divided by the river, has no bridges; the two parts are connected by tunnels under the Scheldt. Bordering on the Scheldt is the picturesque old section of the city with late Gothic buildings: the Cathedral (1352–1616; north tower 123 m high, 1521–30), the fortress of Steen (rebuilt 1520–21), the Church of Saint Jacob, (1491–1507), the house of the Butchers’ Corporation (1501–03), and residential houses. There are representative buildings of the Flemish Renaissance on the Grote Markt square: the Town Hall (1561–65, architect C. Floris) and guild houses of the 16th century. Baroque monuments include the church of Saint Charles Borro-meus (1614–21, architect P. Huysens) and the royal palace (1743–45, architect J. P. Baursheidt). On the site of the 16th-century fortress walls there is a semicircular ring of boulevards; beyond them there are new sections (residential, industrial, and port) and parks. In the 20th century, the tall Torengebouw (1930–31), the airport (1931, architect S. Jasinski), the Kiel housing complexes (1950–55, architects R. Braem, V. Maermans, and R. Maes), the Luchtbal (1955, architect H. van Kuyck), and others have been built. Antwerp has a conservatory and a commercial institute. Its museums include the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (founded 1810), the house of the printers C. Plantin and B. Moretus (built 1576–80), and the house of P. P. Rubens (built about 1611–18).

Antwerp arose on the site of a Roman settlement. It was first mentioned in seventh-century documents and gradually developed as a center of crafts and trade from the 12th century, achieving city rights in 1291. With the development of capitalist relations in handicraft industry and trade (from the end of the 15th century), Antwerp overtook the old economic centers (Bruges and Ghent). It reached full flower by the mid-16th century, becoming the foremost trade and credit center in Europe. Complete freedom of commercial and credit transactions was established on the Antwerp exchange (opened in 1460). During the bourgeois revolution of the 16th century in the Netherlands, Antwerp was the arena for sharp class struggle (the Iconoclast Uprising of 1566 and others); in 1576 it was ravaged by Spanish troops. In 1579 Antwerp joined the Union of Utrecht, but in August 1585 after a long siege it was taken by the Spanish. The continuation of Spanish rule and the closing of the mouth of the Scheldt to trade by the

Dutch in 1609 deprived Antwerp of its former economic importance. In independent Belgium (from 1830), especially after the Belgian government redeemed the right of trade on the Scheldt from the Netherlands in 1863, Antwerp became economically important once more, primarily as a large trade port. During World Wars I and II it was occupied by the Germans.


Génard, P. Anvers à travers les âges, vols. 1–2. Antwerp, 1886–92.
Prims, F. Geschiedenis van Antwerpen, [vols. 1–26]. Brussels-Antwerp, 1927–48.
Avermaete, R. Anvers. Brussels, 1951.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a province of N Belgium. Pop.: 1 668 812 (2004 est.). Area: 2859 sq. km (1104 sq. miles)
2. a port in N Belgium, capital of Antwerp province, on the River Scheldt: a major European port. Pop.: 455 148 (2004 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005