Category: Diamond

Suikerrui: gate to the underworld

Round 1200 the Suikerrui formed the Southern border of the town, but pretty soon the city started to grow and the Suikerrui only held its function as an inner harbour. If you see a streetname that ends on rui, vliet, vest or brug, it means that there used to be water in the neighbourhood in former times. Unfortunately all this water has disappeared from the city, or maybe it is better to say that it is kept from sight, because under street level the complete canal system is still present.


A view of the Ruihuis

Through the Ruihuis you can explore this underworld city: together with a guide you stroll from Grote Markt to the Keistraat, which is situated right next to the river, in the neighbourhood of the red light district. In the Ruihuis you get a pair of boots, an overall and a backpack to carry your personal shoes and coat in. At the end of the walk you turn in boots, overall and backpack and you can continue to explore the city in bright daylight.

A walk through the Antwerp underworld is sure to give you a completely new look on town.


The former police station is being restored. Later this year a completely new museum will open its doors here. A museum devoted to silver and diamonds. The collection is largely based on the collections of the former Sterckshof and Diamond Museums, but it will offer more than a traditional museum. There will be demonstrations and interactive displays that show all aspects of silver and diamond. Undoubtedly Diva will be one more reason to come and visit our town.


The building on the corner of Suikerrui and Jordaenskaai was built by a German banker, Mallinckrot and designed by Joseph Hertogs, who drew plans for a great many buildings for members of the German colony in Antwerp. The statues that adorn the façade were made by Jef Lambeaux, who is also responsible for the Brabofountain on Grote Markt.

World centre of diamond trade

Almost any diamond, at one time or another in its lifetime, passes through the Antwerp diamond quarter. In the nineteenth century it were jewish people who traded in diamonds. They used to travel by train from Antwerp to Amsterdam and back. So it is only natural that you can find the diamond quarter right next to Central Station.

Part of the diamond quarter is sealed off for traffic, but as a pedestrian you can freely walk there. Take notice: Big Brother is watching you while walking in the district. The number of cctv camera’s in the area is really extraordinarily high.

Jeweller’s shops are open to the public of course, but the diamond markets are only accessible to professionals or as part of a guided tour. Practically all of the buildings in Hoveniersstraat, Rijfstraat and so on date from the period after WW II. All of them aim at efficiency and security.

The Portuguese Synagogue

The only artistically interesting building you will see in the area is the sephardic synagogue. The synagogue, locals call it the Portuguese synagogue, was built in 1913, destroyed in WW II, rebuilt, fell victim to a terroristic attack in the early eighties and was rebuilt again.

The name Portuguese synagogue derives from the fact that the Sephardic Jews originatied in Spain and Portugal. The ‘Catholic’ kings of Spain drove them out and eventually they landed in Antwerp. When Antwerp fell under the reign of the very catholic Filip II again, many of them fled to Amsterdam.

The synagogue is a nice example of neo-romanesque architecture. It might stand a little forlorn between all this modern architectural brutality, but that only adds to its charm.

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