INTERSPEECH 2007 is hosted by the Flanders Congress and Concert Centre (FCCC), in the heart of Antwerp, conveniently located next to Antwerp Central Station. Antwerp is a cosmopolitan town with a magnificent architecture, but also the city of the famous painter Rubens, a renowned world diamond center and one of the largest European harbors. It is a midsize town with a lively, well preserved, medieval center small enough to maintain a cozy atmosphere.
CITY OF RUBENS
Baroque, intelligent, complex, fascinating and surprising… are just some key words to describe Rubens’ style. His works can be viewed in glorious rooms in London, Madrid, Munich, Paris, St. Petersburg, Washington, Vienna and last but not least Antwerp! The city of Antwerp is the Master’s home base where visitors can admire his house, workshop and grave. Some fifty of his paintings and oil sketches are permanently on show. Most of them have never left the building they were originally made in centuries ago. Rubens and Antwerp are inextricably linked as Andy Warhol is with New York. Works of the famous painter can be admired in Rubens' house, the Plantin-Moretus Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the Rockox House, the Cathedral of Our Lady, St. Charles Borromeo's Church, St. Paul's Church, St. James's Church (with Rubens' tomb). Besides these, there are of course many other interesting museums and churches.
BRILLIANT WORLD DIAMOND CENTRE
Antwerp World Diamond Centre is not just a slogan. Antwerp quality and cut are international trade terms synonymous with perfect processing and flawless beauty. After the port, the diamond industry is the second pillar of commercial activities. Some 1,500 diamond companies are concentrated in the city centre. In less than one square kilometre, nearby Central Station, more than half of all cut diamonds pass through a network of diamond cutting shops, diamond bourses and selling centres. Of the 25 diamond exchanges worldwide, 4 operate in Antwerp. Elegant showrooms offer the visitor fascinating tours and the opportunity to visit interesting exhibitions. Antwerp has been known as the Diamond Centre of the World for centuries. Today, it has become the world's most important diamond centre, importing over 80% of the world's rough and polished diamonds before being distributed further. It is therefore hardly surprising that this city is home to the largest interactive Diamond Museum in the world.
Antwerp is a major trendsetter in the European world of fashion! After Antwerp fashion designers scored a number of successes in the national “Gouden Spoel” [Golden Spool] competition in London, Antwerp fashion really took off. Moreover, young, up-and-coming designers choose Antwerp as the fashion capital of Belgium and most of them have their studio, showroom and shop here. The annual fashion show in June, organised by the Academy, is a veritable fashion feast that brings together more than 6,000 spectators from all over the world. The ModeNatie houses the Fashion Museum [MoMu], the Forum, the Gallery, the Flanders Fashion Institute [FFI] and the Fashion Department of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Antwerp owes its very existence and prosperity to the River Scheldt. Over the centuries the city and the port have expanded into a maritime metropolis. Walking the full length of the one-sided boulevard, visitors can discover many maritime aspects on the facades of the often contemporary buildings. From the esplanades there is a magnificent view over the mighty river along with the giant cruise ships. Absorb the typical atmosphere of the Antwerp waterfront: at sunset the colours of the Scheldt change, the signal lights on the water, the ships’ lights and the port facilities provide a surprisingly magical spectacle.
The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe and one of the leading ports in the world. It covers an area of 13,500 ha and has 77 miles of quays. Antwerp is also one of the fastest growing ports for tourism with various segments in water tourism: two marinas, different mooring sites for river cruises and a fully equipped cruise terminal near the historic city centre.
In addition to a marina on the Left Bank of the River Scheldt, Antwerp also has mooring facilities at Willem dock on the Right Bank, built as part of the “Eilandje” [Docklands] renovation project. This location, with 250 moorings spread over five floating jetties, is within walking distance of the city centre. It caters first and foremost for short-stay visitors.
The National Maritime Museum, the “Steen” is housed in a fortress dating back to around the year 1200, which makes it the oldest building in Antwerp. It has a collection of more than 94,000 items, ranging from a uniform button... to a complete maritime park with ships and archaeological findings.
Boat excursions into the port of Antwerp show the visitor an uninterrupted string of warehouses, terminals, ships, cranes, bridges and locks.
Built in 1843, the Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world. The beautiful, distinctive buildings and garden are classified and are home to more than 6,000 animals: penguins in Vriesland, elephants and giraffes in a unique Egyptian temple and a pink villa for the hippos. The Antwerp zoo has an international reputation due to its scientific research and its breeding programmes for endangered species such as the okapi and the bonobo. Best of all: all registered participants to Interspeech 2007 have free entrance to the zoo for the duration of the conference. In August, opening times are 10am-7pm.
AND MUCH MORE...
Antwerp also offers many more other interesting and exciting things to do, ranging from shopping, a visit to the underground canals the "Ruien", walks through neighbourhoods with imposing town houses in eclectic and art nouveau styles, exciting night life, a wealth of performing arts, gastronomy, ... The website of Tourism Antwerp contains a wealth of information and gives details about almost everything a visitor would want to know about the city.
Copyright: photographs and most parts of the texts are copyrighted by Tourism Antwerp.