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Europe's little secret

A view in the main square

... but there's so much rain!

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ANTWERP...One of Europe's little secrets, Antwerp is a charming old city with cobblestone streets, great churches, historic buildings, and Rueben's art.. Of course, I didn't know any of this when I accepted my job.. It all came as a very unexpected surprise.. I was glad to make this my new home.

Located on the Schelde River (a word that is virtually impossible for an English speaker to pronouce correctly), Antwerp is Europe's second largest port and the home of the world's largest diamond industry.. In the early 16th centrury it was Western Europe's economic center. The Museum of Fine Arts should make the list of great treasures in Europe, but it remains one of Antwerp's little secrets.

In the middle of the Grote Markt stands the Brabo fountain. According to a legend, a terrible giant, called Druoon Antigoon, lived on the banks of the river Schelde in ancient times.. Whenever sailors on the Schelde River refused to pay toll to the giant, he punished them by cutting off their hand.. A Roman soldier, Silvius Brabo, managed to kill the giant. Brabo cut off the hand of the giant and threw the hand away in the river. . Hence, according to the legend, the name of the city : ant (Eng: hand) -werpen (Eng: to throw). . A nice legend, but untrue. Nevertheless, the 'hand' is the symbol of Antwerp.

Strolling the center of the city is a walk back in history.. The Grote Markt has Renaissance style terraces and the Cathedral of Our Lady dates back to the 14th century.. If you should get tired of walking, there are over 2,500 bars and cafés.. And, what really amazes me is that they always seem to be filled.

Now, I have already said that Antwerp is one of Europe's hidden treasures. But, hidden away in Atwerp, where almost nobody finds them, are two of my murals. So, go explore Oscare and Zenith where you'll see real hidden treasures!

Copyright 2001 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.