Belgium, Antwerp, garden in Peter Paul Ruben's house

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Top choice in Antwerp

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 has been very sensitively restored with furniture that dates from Rubens’ era plus a priceless collection of 17th-century art. There are around a dozen Rubens canvases, most memorably his world-famous hatted self-portrait and a large-scale canvas of Eve glancing lustfully at Adam's fig leaf.

Notice also a Tintoretto from the late David Bowie's collection and a Van Dyck portrait study that was discovered on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow program. Period ephemera includes the metal frame used to support a ruff collar. A lovely baroque portico (under restoration at the time of research) leads into an exquisite formal garden. If you want more than the free 68-page highlights booklet (available in five languages), download the free app.

Note that it's well worth paying the extra €2 for a combined ticket that also gets you into the excellent Museum Mayer van den Bergh.

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