An astounding 80% of the world's uncut diamonds are traded in Antwerp. Four dour exchange buildings lie along heavily guarded Hoveniersstraat and Schupstraat, pedestrianised streets that are also home to Indian banks, specialist transportation companies, diamond 'boilers' and the industry’s governing body, HRD Antwerp.

Though now Indian dominated, historically the diamond business was mainly the domain of Orthodox Jews, whose black coats, broad-rimmed hats and long hair-curls still remain a distinctive feature of the street scenes.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Antwerp attractions

1. Antwerpen-Centraal

0.18 MILES

With its neo-Gothic facade, vast main hall and splendidly proportioned dome, the 1905 Antwerpen-Centraal building has been rated as one of the five most…

2. Antwerp Zoo

0.21 MILES

Founded in 1843, Antwerp Zoo is one of the world’s oldest and best-respected zoological parks. Enclosures in the 10-hectare site are state of the art and…

3. Van Dyck Statue

0.35 MILES

Standing in the middle of the road, the great painter is dressed in britches and hose, holding a floppy plumed hat and gazing into space, apparently…

4. Stadsfeestzaal

0.39 MILES

If walking between Antwerpen-Centraal station and the town centre, do peep inside this exuberant shopping mall within a 1908 neoclassical exhibition hall…

5. Rubenshuis

0.44 MILES

This delightfully indulgent 1611 mansion was built as a home and studio for celebrated painter Pieter Paul Rubens. It was rescued from ruins in 1937 and…

6. St-Jacobskerk

0.51 MILES

The tomb of Rubens is the reason most visitors come to St-Jacobskerk. Located in a small chapel behind the high altar, the tomb is adorned with Our Lady…

7. Maagdenhuis

0.59 MILES

This attractive historic building was an orphanage and child refuge from 1553 to 1882 and houses some fascinating objects from this time, along with a…

8. Museum Mayer van den Bergh


Styled as a 16th-century town house, this superb place was actually constructed in 1904 as one of the first museums in the world built around a single…