Antwerp may be the diamond capital of the world, but a new convention centre is set to place the Belgian city firmly on the business destination map. Toby Cruse visits this state-of-the-art venue
Arriving in Antwerp by train, walking through the central station built within grand cathedral architecture, it’s immediately apparent that this isn’t a city shy of its merits. As Europe’s second largest port, among Belgium’s largest cities and one of the most densely populated areas in the EU, Antwerp’s rich and vibrant cityscape boasts of being the ‘diamond capital’, the world’s largest diamond processing and trade centre.
Heritage and innovation walk side-by-side through the city, historical buildings fitted with modern designs giving Antwerp an image of constant change without forgetting its past. Exploring the city will reveal an environment striving to shine as the heartbeat of European culture and fashion, confident in creativity, boasting a personality unique to itself.
Embodying these traits seconds away from the central station is the newly launched Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp, the FMCCA, a deceptively large conference space at the heart of Antwerp Zoo.
Built upon the original Queen Elizabeth Hall, the FMCCA merges old sections of the Zoo with modern spaces to offer around 30 rooms designed for meetings, seminars, receptions, dinners and even concerts as it gives businesses the opportunity to host events directly next to the butterfly garden, within the old museum area, or accompanied by the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra.
“Yesterday evening I saw in my agenda ‘FMCCA’, I thought it was the reunion of the Village People!” joked Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp, who admitted that the centre will fit in comfortably in a city “not universally known for its modesty”.
“Few cities can count on such a strong package concentrated in one, easily walkable area. Today, Antwerp gains a winning asset with a convention centre in such a remarkable location.”
Offering a ‘room with a zoo’, the FMCCA opens up the adjoining zoo to business events, giving professionals the opportunity to explore after hours and dine in the aquarium. With opportunities such as attending a meal surrounded by the sea life in a sleeping zoo, Mayor De Wever is hoping that it will encourage more companies to see Antwerp as an ideal and unique business destination. The city is expected to introduce more and more opportunities for the growing business venue market as Antwerp continues to expand its “international ambitions”.
“No doubt, FMCCA will become a cornerstone of this city,” concluded De Wever. “A city that drives the Flemish economy and proudly serves as its business and cultural capital.”
To find out more, visit elisabethcenter.be/en/meetings-events-antwerp