Definitions

(Antwerp)

Antwerp

[an-twerp]
French Anvers Flemish Antwerpen

City (pop., 2000 est.: 446,500), capital of Antwerp province, Belgium. One of the world's major seaports, it is located 55 mi (88 km) southeast of the North Sea. Because it lies in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, it plays the role of unofficial capital of Flanders. It received municipal rights in 1291 and became a member of the Hanseatic League by 1315. As a distribution centre for Spanish and Portuguese trade, it became the commercial and financial capital of Europe in the 16th century. Following destructive invasions it went into decline but began to revive after Napoleon's improvement of the harbour circa 1803. It was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–30), then was ceded to Belgian nationalists. Its current economic life centres around shipping, port-related activities, and major manufacturing.

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Antwerp (Dutch: , French: Anvers) is a city and municipality in Belgium and the capital of the Antwerp province in Flanders, one of Belgium's three regions. Antwerp's total population is 472,071 (as of January 2008) and its total area is 204.51 km², giving a population density of 2,308 inhabitants per km².

Antwerp has long been an important city in the nations of the Benelux both economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Fury of the Dutch Revolt. It is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde.

History

Origin of name

According to folklore, and as celebrated by the statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend involving a mythical giant called Antigoon who lived near the river Scheldt. He exacted a toll from those crossing the river, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river Scheldt. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen—akin to Old English hand and wearpan (= to throw), that has changed to today's warp.

In favour of this folk etymology is the fact that hand-cutting was indeed practised in Europe, the right hand of a man who died without issue being cut off and sent to the feudal lord as proof of main-morte. However, John Lothrop Motley argues that Antwerp's name derives from an 't werf (on the wharf). Aan 't werp (at the warp) is also possible. This 'warp' (thrown ground) would be a man made hill, just high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a farm would be built. An other word for werp is pol (hence polders).

The most prevailing theory is that the name originated in the Gallo-Roman period and comes from the Latin antverpia. Antverpia would come from Ante (against) Verpia (deposition, sedimentation), indicating land that forms by deposition in the inside curve of a river. Note that the river Scheldt, before a transition period between 600 to 750, followed a different track. This must have coincided roughly with the current ringway south of the city, situating the city within a former curve of the river.

Pre-1500

The historical Antwerp had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus civilization. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952-1961 (ref. Princeton), pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-second century to the end of the third century.

In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named, having been settled by the Germanic Franks. The name was reputed to have been derived from "anda" (at) and "werpum" (wharf).

The Merovingian Antwerp, now fortified, was evangelized by Saint Amand in the seventh century. At the end of the tenth century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate, a border province facing the County of Flanders.

In the eleventh century Godfrey of Bouillon was for some years best known as marquis of Antwerp. In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael’s Abbey at Caloes.

Antwerp was the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the earl of Cambridge, was born there in 1338.

16th century

After the closing of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, became of importance. At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the English nation is specifically mentioned in 1510.

Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the center of the entire international economy—something Bruges had never been even at its height." (Braudel 1985 p. 143.) Antwerp's "Golden Age" is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". Over the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second largest European city north of the Alps by 1560. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Guicciardini, the Venetian envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepper and cinnamon would unload their cargo.

Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very international, with merchants and traders from Venice, Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large orthodox Jewish community. Antwerp was not a "free" city though, since it had been reabsorbed into the duchy of Brabant in 1406 and was controlled from Brussels.

Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age, the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, in 1559, based on the textiles industry. The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers.

The religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Netherlands. The regent Margaret, duchess of Parma, was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alba at the head of an army the following summer. When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1572, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao was not possible. On November 4, 1576, the Spanish soldiers plundered the city. During the Spanish Fury 6000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over two millions sterling of damage was done.

Antwerp became the capital of the Dutch revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siege and sent its Protestant citizens into exile. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa and Amsterdam became the new trading centre.

17th-19th centuries

The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the Treaty of Münster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldt should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities. This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815 to 1830). Antwerp had reached the lowest point of its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned two million for the construction of two docks and a mole. In 1830, the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time Chassé subjected the town to periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by a French army. During this attack the town was further damaged. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender.

20th century

Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903. During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. It was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westward.

Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics. During World War II the city was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and was liberated when the British 11th Armoured Division entered the city on September 4, 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. Thousands of V-1 and V-2 missiles battered the city. The city was hit by more V-2s than any other target during the entire war, but the attack did not succeed in destroying the port since many of the missiles fell upon other parts of the city. As a result, the city itself was severely damaged and rebuilt after the war in a modern style. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European center of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.

Historical population

This is the population of the city of Antwerp only, not of the larger current municipality of the same name.

  • 1374: 18,000
  • 1486: 40,000
  • 1500: around 44/49,000 inhabitants
  • 1526: 50,000
  • 1567: 105,000 (90,000 permanent residents and 15,000 "floating population", including foreign merchants and soldiers. At the time only 10 cities in Europe reached this size.)
  • 1575: around 100,000 (after the Inquisition)
  • 1584: 84,000 (after the Spanish Fury, the French Fury and the calvinistic republic)
  • 1586 (May): 60,000 (after siege)
  • 1586 (October): 50,000
  • 1591: 46,000
  • 1612: 54,000
  • 1620: 66,000 (Twelve Years' Truce)

  • 1640: 54,000 (after the Black Death epidemics)
  • 1700: 66,000
  • 1765: 40,000
  • 1784: 51,000
  • 1800: 45,500
  • 1815: 54,000
  • 1830: 73,500
  • 1856: 111,700
  • 1880: 179,000
  • 1900: 275,100
  • 1925: 308,000
  • 1959: 260,000

Municipality

The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. It is divided into nine entities (districts):

  1. Antwerp (district)
  2. Berchem
  3. Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo
  4. Borgerhout
  5. Deurne
  6. Ekeren
  7. Hoboken
  8. Merksem
  9. Wilrijk

Buildings and facilities

In the 16th century, Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens ("Antwerpia nummis"); the houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic League on the northern quays in 1891. The city also suffered considerable war damage by V-bombs, and in recent years other noteworthy buildings were demolished for new developments.

Fortifications

Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, nothing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel defended by General Chassé in 1832, except for the Steen, which has been restored. Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications. After the establishment of Belgian independence, Antwerp was defended by the citadel and an enceinte around the city. In 1859, seventeen of the twenty-two fortresses constructed under Wellington's supervision in 1815–1818 were dismantled and the old citadel and enceinte were removed. A new enceinte 8 miles long was constructed, and the villages of Berchem and Borgerhout, now parishes of Antwerp, were absorbed within the city.

This enceinte is protected by a broad wet ditch, and in the caponiers are the magazines and store chambers of the fortress. The enceinte has nineteen openings or gateways, but of these seven are not used by the public. As soon as the enceinte was finished eight detached forts from 2 to 2-½ miles from the enceinte were constructed. They begin on the north near Wijnegem and the zone of inundation, and terminate on the south at Hoboken. In 1870 Fort Merksem and the redoubts of Berendrecht and Oorderen were built for the defence of the area to be inundated north of Antwerp.

In the 1870s, the fortifications of Antwerp were deemed to be out of date, given the increased range and power of artillery and explosives. Antwerp was transformed into a fortified position by constructing an outer line of forts and batteries 6 to 9 miles from the enceinte.

Commerce

According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Antwerp's sea port was the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only to Rotterdam in Europe. Importantly it handles high volumes of economically attractive general cargo and project cargo, as well as bulk . Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houston, Texas. Power generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doel, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants. There are plans for a wind farm in a disused area of the docklands. The old Belgian bluestone quays bordering the Scheldt for a distance of 3 ½ miles to the north and south of the city centre have been retained for their sentimental value and are used mainly by cruise liners and short-sea shipping.

Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade. The city has four diamond bourses. One for boart and three for gem quality goods. Since the Second World War families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry although the last two decades have seen Indian and Armenian traders become increasingly important. Antwerp World Diamond Centre , the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a centre of the diamond industry.

Transportation

Road

A motorway bypass encircles much of the city centre. Known locally as the "Ring" it offers motorway connections to Brussels, Hasselt and Liège, Ghent, Lille and Bruges and Breda and Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands). The banks of the Scheldt are linked by three road tunnels (in order of construction): the Waasland Tunnel (1934), the Kennedy Tunnel (1967) and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel (1991). Currently a fourth high volume highway link called "Oosterweelconnection" is in the tendering stage. It will entail the construction of a long viaduct and bridge (the Lange Wapper Bridge) over the Scheldt on the north side of the city. The completion date is as yet uncertain. The cost of the connection is estimated at 2.2 billion euros.

Rail

Antwerp is the focus of lines to the north to Essen and the Netherlands, east to Turnhout, south to Mechelen, Brussels and Charleroi via Luttre, and southwest to Ghent and Ostend.

It is served by international trains to Amsterdam and Paris, and national trains to Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Brussels, Charleroi, Hasselt, Liège and Turnhout.

Its Central station is an architectural monument in itself, and is mentioned in W G Sebald's haunting novel Austerlitz. Prior to the completion in 2007 of a tunnel that runs northwards under the city centre to emerge at the old Antwerp Dam station, Centraal was a terminus. Trains to the Netherlands either had to reverse at Centraal or call only at Berchem, 2 km to the south, and then describe a semicircle to the east, round the Singel.

City transportation

The city has a web of tram and bus lines operated by De Lijn and providing access to the city centre, suburbs and the Left Bank. The tram network has 11 lines, of which the underground section is called the "premetro" and includes a tunnel under the river.

Air

Antwerp International Airport is in the district of Deurne. VLM Airlines flies to London (City Airport) and Manchester in England. VLM is the only airline with scheduled air services to and from Antwerp International Airport. The airport is connected by bus to the city center.

Brussels Airport is about 45 km from the city of Antwerp, and connects the city worldwide. The airport is connected by bus and by train to the city centre of Antwerp

Culture

Antwerp had an artistic reputation in the 17th century, based on its school of painting, which included Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, the two Teniers and many others. Informally, most Antverpians (in Dutch Antwerpenaren, people from Antwerp) daily speak Antverpian, a dialect that Dutch-speakers know as distinctive from other Brabantic dialects through its typical vowel pronunciations: approximating the vowel sound in 'bore'— for one of its 'a'-sounds while other 'a's are very sharp. The Echt Antwaarps Teater ('Authentic Antverpian Theatre') brings the dialect on stage.

Fashion

Antwerp is a rising fashion city, and has produced designers such as the Antwerp Six. The city has a cult status in the fashion world, due to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important fashion academies in Europe. It has served as the learning centre for a large number of Belgian fashion designers.

Miscellaneous

The major sport clubs are K.F.C. Germinal Beerschot and R. Antwerp F.C. (football) and Antwerp Diamond Giants (basketball). Since the 1980s, several graduates of the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts have become internationally successful fashion designers in Antwerp. Antwerp hosted the 50th anniversary celebrations of The Tall Ships' Races in the summer of 2006. Antwerp was the opening city in the Guy Ritchie movie, Snatch. It is from where the 86 carat (17.2 g) diamond is first stolen.

Orthodox Jewish population

After the Holocaust and the destruction of its many semi-assimilated Jews, Antwerp became a major centre for Orthodox Jews. At present, about 20,000 Haredi Jews, mostly Hasidic, live in Antwerp. The city has three official Jewish Congregations: Shomrei Hadass, headed by Rabbi Dovid Moishe Lieberman, Machsike Hadass, headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Sternbuch (formerly Chief Rabbi Chaïm Kreiswirth) and the Portuguese Community Bne Moshe. Antwerp has an extensive network of synagogues, shops, schools and organizations, within the Machsike Hadas community. Significant Hasidic movements in Antwerp include Pshevorsk, based in Antwerp, as well as branches of Satmar, Belz, Bobov, Ger, Skver, Klausenburg, Lubavitch and several others. Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, chief rabbi of the Machsike Hadas community, who died in 2003, was arguably one of the better known personalities to have been based in Antwerp. An attempt to have a street named after him has received the support of the Town Hall and is in the process to be implemented.

Missions to seafarers

A number of Christian missions to seafarers are based in Antwerp, notably on the Italiëlei. These include the British & International Sailors’ Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, the Norwegian Sjømannskirken and the Apostleship of the Sea. They provide cafeterias, cultural and social activities as well as religious services.

Sister cities

The following places are sister cities to Antwerp:

Within the context of development cooperation, Antwerp is also linked to:

Notable people from Antwerp

Born in Antwerp

Lived in Antwerp

Specific areas in Antwerp

See also

Notes

References

  • Carolus Scribani, Origines Antwerpiensium, 1610
  • Gens, Histoire de la ville d'Anvers
  • F.H. Mertens, K.L. Torfs, Geschiedenis van Antwerpen sedert de stichting der. stad tot onze tyden, vol. 7, Antwerp 1853
  • J. L. Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1856
  • P. Génard, Anvers à travers les ages
  • Annuaire statistique de la Belgique
  • Richard Stillwell, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, 1976: "Antwerp Belgium"

External links

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