© Tania Lauwers
The green heart of Antwerp is not far from the city centre – just across the Ring. The three adjoining parks – Vogelenzang, Middelheim and Den Brandt – were once the private property of several families of nobility. They would visit their ‘gardens of amusement’ for relaxation.
At the start of the 20th century, there were plans to divide the grounds into lots. Fortunately, the city governors purchased the castle lands in 1910 and opened them as a park. Investors were allowed to build villas in the area, as long as they were large, beautiful and showed respect for the green surroundings. Art lovers can enjoy the Middelheim open-air museum. It is a wonderful source of pleasure for children, families and sports enthusiasts - and it's very near the city.
When you wander along the avenues around the Den Brandt Park, you get a good idea of the residential buildings that arose in the suburbs after the First World War. English cottages stand shoulder-to-shoulder with avant-garde houses, a ‘petit palais’ next to a contemporary villa. A wide diversity of styles, but all standing in gardens that themselves can almost be described as parks.
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