Hello, I'm Nicolaas Rockox

Love architectural gems from old and contemporary masters?


Rubens designs new neighbourhood in Antwerp

Rubens was an all-round man. As well as being a painter and diplomat, he was also an architect and designer. Very few people know that he even published a book called 'Palazzi di Genova' with illustrations of 31 Genoese Palazzi and four churches.


This book can still be admired at the Rubens House. Rubens had hoped that the palazzo architecture would become popular when his city was being further developed. 't Eilandje - 'the Little Island', a neighbourhood in Antwerp that was on the brink of development in Rubens' time, was considered an ideal location by him for such beautiful architecture.

However, it wasn't until the 21st century that this neighbourhood was developed as during Ruben's century, Antwerp's expansion stalled. As a result, the neighbourhood was used for port activities – the Felix Pakhuis (19th century) is a beautiful example of a former warehouse of the era.

Today, 't Eilandje is a vibrant neighbourhood full of terraces and trendy lunch spots. It's also home to interesting buildings such as the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) by the architects Neutelings and Riedijk, and the Port House by Zaha Hadid. We wonder if Rubens would approve of this modern architecture...

"2018 is the year of Baroque with Rubens as the source of inspiration in Antwerp.This is the perfect time to visit Flanders."

Nowhere else in the world are the art cities in such close proximity as in Flanders.

Are you keen to explore some authentic neighbourhoods? Here is a selection that I can highly recommend:

Antwerp: Vlaeykensgang
Brussels: The Marollen and the Zavel. Take a walk in the Marolles district in Brussels
Ghent: The Prinsenhof and the nearby Patershol
Bruges: The entire city centre

Flanders is beautiful.

I'd love to show you around some more of the region.

Fully experience Flanders' wealth.

Meet the other guides.