Saturday, September 23, 2017

Antwerp: Shopping Stadsfeestzaal on the Meir

Shopping can get me tired, and I mean this seriously. Sometimes just the thought of it makes me tired already. I know, I am a party pooper.

This monumental shopping building that is once the party hall of Antwerp City Hall is easy to find on the Meir (main shopping street of Antwerp).

I tend to lean towards a masculine approach when it comes to the real chore of shopping. So I shop for a purpose and it is usually something that I plan ahead. The only time I would spontaneously shop is when I am travelling, but not all the time. At home, I just stay away from city centres and shopping places. That way I will not be tempted, haha.

But there are always exemptions!

The City of Antwerp showcases a lovely shopping centre called “Shopping Stadsfeestzaal” (Festival Hall Shopping) which really has little to do with shopping, in my opinion anyway, but more of a platform to celebrate Antwerp’s rich architecture and history. What can I say, the shopping building is a national monument! Now, that is more my cup of tea =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

The Stadsfeestzaal is a not just a place to shop but to marvel at art and architecture.

Here is an excerpt from website about the Stadsfeestzaal:

“The Municipal Council commissioned the construction of Stadsfeestzaal or Festival Hall in 1905. The neo-Classical and eclectic design by master architect, Alexis Van Mechelen was completed in 1908 and provided for a large and small festival hall, shops and apartments. The Festival Hall was a popular location for parties, balls, exhibitions and fairs. Several generations of young people attended the graduation ceremony of the municipal schools in this hall.”

Ever since the Stadsfeestzaal reopened in 2007, which came after years of renovation from a fire in 2000, I have been promising myself to visit, but never really made the chance. I do not know why it was taking a long time? I remember planning a visit here with Blondine a few times which never materialised. Something always came up until it was too late for us to go together. The almost yearly quick visits to Antwerp with the Dutchman is a trip that is meant to bypass anything shopping related, so there’s very little prospect of hoping, even for a quick glimpse. When one is in a relationship, one learns to compromise.

So when I went last April to Antwerp with Bubbles, it was like a chance from heaven. Finally!

My thoughts about the Festival Hall?

When we stepped inside, we were blown away by its Aureolin opulence. The colour gold is indeed blinding. We stood in the entrance doorways with our heads gazing up at the glass dome, we were transfixed at the gilded ornaments on the walls and ceilings. Memories of my visit to the 7-star hotel in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab jogged past my thoughts. If you have visited the hotel, you will understand why. The historic party hall of Antwerp is grand and extravagant, no doubt about that, but well, too kitschy for my liking.

But I was entertained. I wouldn’t miss this especially if one is a design and architecture enthusiast. Definitely a must see.

There are however not many shopping stalls inside the once Antwerp City Hall's party hall. It mainly acts as an important junction between the Meir shopping street and the shopping mall connected to it, giving shoppers the flexibility and easy flow of access.

There is a cute cafe right under the glass dome.

Beautiful mosaic patterns on the floor.

A closer look of the shiny gilded ceiling.

Like most major European cities, Antwerp was on alert for terrorism. Sadly, something too common these days.

Travel Period: April 2017
Destination: Antwerp (Antwerpen), Belgium

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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