Saturday, May 05, 2007

ANTWERPEN ZOO

After my walk through Antwerp City I returned to the Station and visited the Zoo. This zoo is very old. It was inaugurated in 1844 by King Leopold I and opened to the public.

In the first period of its existence, the area of the park grew from less than 2 hectares to more than 10 hectares. Notable buildings from that period are the

Egyptian temple from 1856,which is now occupied by Elephants and the antelope building 1861 in Oriental style, which now houses the okapis.

The park is so big and beautiful, that many Antwerp inhabitants use it like a normalpark, where they stay the whole day, can picnic and the children have a nice playground. There are three restaurants and banks are everywhere and you can sit under nice trees and enjoy the beauty of the park or visit the animals.

The only thing which bothered me personally was, that there was more room for humans than for animals, which should have been the other way around. But the cages had been made much bigger and more species-appropriate as I had seen them some 30 years ago.

In 1983, the zoo was classified as a monument.

Antwerp Zoo houses over 5,000 animals of about 950 species. They get nearly 1.3 million visitors each year and have around 38,000 supporting members.

Zoo entrance

Postcards of the animals

some spring cleaning

and here starts the beautiful park

with flamengos at first

The apes were inside because their cage was just cleaned

But then they showed up and I saw this cool boy. He looked at me too stood up and slowly came over and sat down.

We were just separated by a thick glass but I tried to take these pictures of him, while he put his head against the glass and looked at me on the other side.

He had such a cute look ! I wished I could petted him, but then probably I would have looked like a pancake.

These little gentlemen greated everybody in their tuxedos, they really were very funny to see especially when they all walked together.

That was another kind of monkey with long cat tails. I don't remember the name.

and beavers ! They grumbled and walked around like angry men

Some scavening birds

and Giraffes. Their house was also very old but modernized

see the beautiful decoration of the building

and then I arrived at the Elephants.

The house of the Elephants with its Egyptian decoration

and father Elephant who stand there waiting to be fed. The poor guy only had one tusk.

It was feeding time and they all waited. There was also one elephant baby as you can see.

children very intrigued by these big animals

The chimpanzees were jumping around

and also expected some food from the visitors, but feeding was not allowed of course

Here I admired the oriental house of the Okapis

He is just eating and wasn't very much interested in me

another beautiful building for monkeys I suppose, it was empty.

These were apes with red bottoms I don't remember the name, but they looked quite funny !

And here are some pictures of the parc. Stone Elephant sculptures covered with ivy

a lot of flowers and trees

This little guy walked just behind the bank where I rested a little after my long walk.

Of course I have missed a lot of animals, but I only had one hour and a complete visit to see all animals would have lasted 3 h at least ! But for sure I will go back there.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

ANTWERP- DIAMOND TOWN

Antwerp is a beautyful city, on the right bank of the river Scheldt which is linked to the North Sea. Antwerp has a port which is one of the world's largest, and has a high level of cargo shipping and oil refineries traffic. In Europe, only Rotterdam's port is larger.

Antwerp had been a fortified city but only one thing remains of the former enceinte or of the old citadel, a beautiful castle, called "The Steen" which means "stone". Modern Antwerp's broad avenues mark the position of the original fortifications.

Antwerp had a big artistic reputation in the 17th century, because of its school of painting, where Rubens and Van Dyck, and many others have been.

The atmosphere in this city is very cosmopolitan. You see people of all races and colors, to begin with a lot of Jewish men with their long bearts, high hats and their cork-screw like pigtails hanging over each ear. Most of them are diamond traders. Antwerp is well known for the diamond industry and there are whole districts where you only find jewleries (diamonds) shops, wholesales and workshops.

Even I didn't dare to take a picture of them, they looked too serious !

In these districts around 20.000 Orthodox Jews are living. They had always been here and Antwerp is the major European center for them. During the war so many had been murdered or put in concentration camps but after the war survivors returned. These Diamond districts are just a few minutes from the central station. As I am not Mrs. Bill Gates, I refrained from going there and anyway I had no time either.

First thing I saw was the beautiful construction of the Central Station, completed in 1905. The Station itself is very modern, but the original building was kept, which makes the Station special.

Here are some views

when I came out I saw these Elephant statues made out of hundreds of pieces of different woods.

They just had put them up and the artist told me that they will remain there. The Zoo is just besides the Station, so in some way it should relate the Station to the Zoo.

I had to take the tramway to arrive to the Central place with its beautiful Guildhouses from the 16th century and the

City Hall you see here with European flags

In this Restaurant I had lunch. It was Spanish and I ate a Tortilla

And as usual Japonese Tourists !

A horse carrige for tourists

This statue was built in honor of a giant called Antigoon, who lived near the river Scheldt. He asked for a toll from all those who wanted to cross the river. On refusal, the giant cut off one hand and threw it into the Scheldt. But then the giant was killed by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's hand too and also threw it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, because "hand werpen" (Dutch) means "hand-throwing". That's at least what the official legend says, because there are also others.

open air cafés and restaurants

and also artists

Then I arrived at the castle "The Steen"

and the avenues which mark the position of the original fortifications

The statue of the giant

and all along this place, people do their pick nick or just enjoy the river

A sightseeing boat and far in the background you can see the huge cranes of the port

"Our Lady's Cathedral" is the largest cathedral in the Low Countries. Inside are several triptychs from Rubens. It is the tallest building in the city.

Some little streets

The statue of Rubens. He is burried in Antwerp in the St. James Cathedral.

The Hilton Hotel near the Station

a little church squeezed between houses with a beautiful entrance

and a Tatoo shop, if you want to inhance your beauty !

If you want to read more about Antwerp's history and about the Diamonds go here to THE DIAMONDLAND it's very interesting.

I have also visited the Zoo and will show it to you on Saturday 5th May. This Zoo is very old and dates from 1844 !! It has a lot of notable buildings.

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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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