Antwerp has long been an important city in the Low Countries, both economically and culturally, especially before the Spanish Fury in the Dutch Revolt.
The inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren, after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, « lord », referring to the Spanish noblemen who ruled the city in the 17th century. Today Antwerp is a major trade and cultural centre, and is the world’s second most multi-cultural city (after Amsterdam) home to 170 nationalities.
It is also known as the « diamond capital » of the world for its large diamond district. The city hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics.
According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river. He exacted a toll from passing boatmen, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river.
Eventually the giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant’s own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan (to throw), which has evolved to today’s warp.