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Antwerp, Belgium

antwepmenMayor: Mr. Bart De Wever

Population: 510,610 residents.

A brief history of the city
Evidence was found in Antwerp indicating the existence of settlements there as early as the 2nd or 3rd century, when the Flemish city evolved around two settlements that later on were surrounded by one wall. The city continued to spread in concentric circles, and reached its first economic prosperity at the beginning of the 14th century, as the major center of commerce and trade in Western Europe, based on its harbor and cotton market.

The 15th century saw the city-turned-metropolis' Golden Age. The combination of a commercial hub that brought great wealth, with multi-cultural tolerance and relative religious freedom, advanced the city to its first cultural breakthrough, with painters Quinten Metsys and Bruegel, the printer Plantin, the humanists and scientists Lipsius, Mercator, Dodoens and Ortelius. The Fall of Antwerp in 1585, after which the city again came under the rule of Philip II and the Northern Netherlands, closed off the Scheldt River. From an economic point of view this was a disaster. Yet the city continued to flourish culturally until the mid-seventeenth century, with painters like Rubens, Van Dyck and others. Apart from interruptions during the two world wars, Antwerp has experienced steady economic growth in the twentieth century. This gave rise to a new cultural high point and international prestige in 1993, when Antwerp was nominated Cultural Capital of Europe.

eneral information and special features
Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium. It earned international fame by being the home of famous Flemish painter Paul Rubens, and due to its undisputed status as the diamond center of the world; the diamond district is located around the Railway Station, an area that is also the Jewish part of the city. Antwerp lies 50 kilometers north of Brussels, on the eastern bank of the Scheldt River, and has the second largest port in Europe. In the heart of the city lies Grote Markt Square, and in it stands a bronze statue of Silvius Brabo, raising his hand in the air with the severed arm of the giant Antigonus, (believed to terrorize the local ruler instead of passing ships), in order to throw it into the river Scheldt. Near the square one can find impressive historic sites such as the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Cathedral, from the 15th century, one of Belgium's most impressive Gothic churches, also famous for displaying paintings by Rubens; the many Guildhalls; and the Het Steen fortress, Antwerp's oldest building dating from the Middle Ages, which today contains the Shipping Museum.

Antwerp is renowned for the great artists who lived and worked there, and whose art adorns churches, museums and various other sites in the city. Antwerp has many museums, including the Plantin-Morteus, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Mayer van den Bergh Museum. Another artistic landmark is Rubenshuis – Paul Rubens' house, today a museum. The graves of the painter and his family are located in the chapel where some of his last works hang.

The Haifa-Antwerp Twin Cities Treaty was signed on May 7, 1986