We recently had a holiday in France and Belgium so I’m finally going through all my photos and sorting out which places to tell you all about! One city we visited which I was pleasantly surprised by was Antwerp in Belgium. I think most travellers visit Bruges and Brussels in Belgium, as I personally haven’t seen much out there about Antwerp, although it is a very pretty city! One of the best ways to see a city is from up on high, where you can overlook everything and we found the perfect place to do this in Antwerp AND it’s completely free! Where is this place?
Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)
A striking postmodern Art Deco building made of Indian red sandstone and curved glass panels, the Museum aan de Stroom (which means museum by the river and is usually shortened to MAS) sits right on the harbour and is very striking. The first thing I noticed when walking towards it was that it doesn’t actually seem that big. Apparently, it is 60 metres high though, which is definitely high enough to get a fantastic view over the city when you ascend to the rooftop viewing platform. Here’s a sneak peek, but more about the view later.
The building itself is very interesting to look at, I am always fascinated by little details such as the hands on the outside of the building,
I also loved the miniature model of the museum that sits in the foyer with some of the sides cut out so you can see a model of some of the exhibits inside the building:
Now it isn’t free to visit most of the exhibitions in the museum (although some are) but in order to visit the free viewing platform on the roof, you simply go in the foyer and up the escalators. You will then be riding a new set of escalators up each floor for ten or eleven floors, and then a flight of stairs before you finally arrive at the roof. The views from inside the museum are pretty spectacular, especially on a beautiful day like when we visited. You can hang out on seats inside for free as well.
The Best Views of Antwerp!
When we finally stepped out onto the rooftop viewing platform there were little paper love-hearts all over the ground. I’ve no idea why, but they were cute nonetheless!
And finally, the views! There is a plastic barrier around the edge, but there are round holes on each side for those who are too short (like me) to take a photo over the top! We visited around 10.30am on a lovely sunny day and there were only a couple of other people. The rooftop is quite big so it definitely wasn’t crowded. You are treated to 360-degree views over the city of Antwerp. It was simply stunning!
Obligatory selfie shot of us on top of the museum!
Another cool sight which you can only really see as you go back down, there is a massive mural on the ground in front of the museum. From ground level you can vaguely see that the stones are different colours, but it’s only when looking down on the ground from a few stories up that you can actually see the image in the stones. From ground level:
The 1,600 square metre mosaic is called Dead Skull and was created by Antwerp artist Luc Taymans. The mosaic is based on a memorial plaque to the painter Quentin Metsys which can be found on the exterior of Antwerp’s Cathedral of Our Lady. It displays a skull and a coat of arms. One of the more fascinating types of art I have seen!
So there you have it, a guide for seeing the best views of Antwerp, for free! There were also some groovy little statues across from the museum, attached to some other kind of installation art where you could whisper a message into a machine, and hear whispered messages from other people. The little figure with the whisper box was looking across the road where more figures could be seen climbing a building.
I’m sure this would also be a great place to visit at sunset, and of course, the exhibitions of the museum are all about the history of Antwerp. I’m sure they would be interesting as well, but as this was our last stay of the holiday we couldn’t really afford it! But it’s something on the list for next time. Read more about the museum here if you want to visit the paid section.
Stay tuned for more upcoming posts about Antwerp, and other parts of Belgium. Where was the best place you have been to get a fantastic view over the city? Let me know in the comments and pin this for later if you enjoyed this!