Antwerp, Beligium » City Info » History

Origin of Name

The name 'Antwerp' came from a mythical giant named 'Antigoon' who resided near the banks of the river Scheldt. He caused great distress to the city's residents by extracting a toll for crossing the river and those who revolted; he cut one of their hands and threw it in the Scheldt River. A hero named 'Brabo' finally laid the giant to rest by slaying him and threw one of his hands into the river. Antwerpen originated from the words' hand werpen', which means 'to throw' in Dutch.


Humans resided in Antwerp on the banks of the river 'Scheldt', as long ago as the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. during the Roman era. Further excavations show that the site was inhabited again during 650 when Christianity arrived in Europe. Later on, the Vikings attacked the city in 836, resulting in city inhabitants migrating to 'aanwerp', an alluvial mound, where the Steen castle was later built. Today's Antwerp has developed around this original location.

In the Golden era of the 16th century, the city started maturing as the economic and cultural hub globally. After the decline of the Burgs in the 15th and 16th centuries, Antwerp became a major trading port. Ornate decorations, paintings, sculptures and silverware found in castles, churches and museums remind us of the glory of Antwerp's rich heritage.

Today Antwerp is a major port, diamond exporter and tourist attraction. Shopping streets, roadside pubs and restaurants, and a thriving nightlife (many bars and clubs are open for 24 hours) magnetise tourists.