Antwerp (Fr. Anvers; Flem. Antwerpen, 'on the wharf), the chief commercial city of Belgium, on the river Scheldt, 52 miles from the sea, and 27 N. of Brussels. It is the Liverpool of the Continent, and the tonnage of vessels entering its port has increased tenfold within thirty years, until it stands at over 6,000,000 tons annually. The trade and manufactures of Antwerp have so extended, that the large dock and quay accommodation having been found too limited, a new quay, 2 miles in length, and docks, constructed at a cost of nearly £4,000,000, were opened in 1885. The chief exports are flax, sugar, iron, woollen goods, metals, glass, and tallow; the chief imports are wheat, petroleum, wool, cotton, coffee, tobacco. The manufactures consist chiefly of sugar, white-lead, cotton goods, lace, linen-thread, sewing-silk, black silk stuffs, starch, and printers' ink. There are also to be mentioned oil-refining, tobacco-manufacture, the cutting of diamonds and other precious stones, and shipbuilding. The chief public institutions are - the Academy of Sciences, Academy of Painting and Sculpture, a Medical and Surgical School, Naval Arsenal, Museum (with specimens of the pictures of Rubens, Vandyck, Titian, and Matsys), Zoological Gardens, the Flemish Theatre, and the Plantin Museum (1876). The six-aisled cathedral (1352-1518), the noblest Gothic structure in Belgium, is 500 feet in length by 250 in breadth, with a roof supported by 125 pillars, and an exquisite spire, 403 feet high, in which hangs a splendid carillon of 99 bells. The interior is enriched by the two greatest of all the pictures of Rubens, the Elevation of, and the Descent from, the Cross. The Church of St James contains the monument of the Rubens family. The Exchange (1531), a fine building, is said to have been Gresham's model of the old London Exchange. It was burnt in 1858, but rebuilt in the same style, and reopened in 1872. The hotel-de-Ville (1565) is a fine building in the Renaissance style. The old fortifications were demolished ill 1860, though Alva's famous citadel (1567) stood till 1874; and since 1851 new fortifications have been erected outside the city, with detached forts to the south-east, rendering Antwerp one of the most strongly fortified places in Europe. Pop. (1846) 88,487; (1891) 232,723; (1904)291,950.
Antwerp in the beginning of the 16th century was the commercial capital of the world. When in 1576 it was seized by the Spanish soldiery, 8000 persons were murdered, and the city-hall and nearly a thousand buildings burnt. This and the assault of the Duke of Parma in 1585, caused Antwerp to sink into decay. From 1794 till 1814, while it was held by the French, Napoleon attempted to make it a great military and commercial centre. The union of Belgium with Holland in 1815 was very favourable to Antwerp. When the revolutionary party gained possession in 1830, the Dutch commandant, General Chasse, retreated to the citadel, and commenced a bombardment, which destroyed the arsenal. In 1832, 50,000 French under Marshal Gerard appeared before Antwerp, to demand the surrender of the citadel; and after its interior had been reduced to ruins by the French artillery, Chasse capitulated. The city was handed over to the Belgians, and since the treaty of 1839, Antwerp has had a singularly prosperous career. French is the business language, but the majority of the inhabitants speak Flemish.