For those who love art deco buildings I can definitely recommend a day trip to Sint-Niklaas, the city with the largest market square of Belgium.
In this blog post you will find my travel tips about:
What to see and do in Sint-Niklaas
Huis Janssens (Janssens Manor) was built in 1878 by the same architect who has built the city hall. At the back of the building (still under construction in April 2021) you will find a small garden and the entrance to The Mercator Museum.
If you adore Art Deco buildings just like me, then you would probably enjoy the Art Deco walking tour.
You can get a map at the tourism office to experience it on your own, or you can book a guided tour which also takes you to the entrance hall of the impressive Broederschool.
One of our favourite buildings is the office of MAN architecten at Kalkstraat 62, which was built in 1933 by architect Karel Van Havermaet. The building is called 'house Hector Michiels' as the owners where Misses Valentine & Elodie Michiels. In the front they created the family home and in the back they built a
knitwear factory. Nice to know: Sint-Niklaas was during those days one of the most important places in the flourishing knitwear history of Belgium.
I will only share a small selection of some buildings I liked most, because there are literally hundreds of these gems patiently waiting to be admired.
But the real showstopper is the entrance hall of the above mentioned Broederschool.
Architect August Waterschoot and his son Leander designed this masterpiece which opened its doors in 1934. It felt a bit dark and moody, but on the other side playful because of the use of all these bright colours. In my opinion a must see for those who love art deco!
Please note: as this is still a functioning school, you are only allowed to take a look inside when you are joining a guided tour organised by the tourism office.
In the afternoon we've visited NAFT art festival. This exposition of 18 artists from Belgium and abroad runs until the 2nd of May 2021. Keep an eye on the website of SteM for upcoming events.
One of my favourite artworks were made by Gwen Vanderstraeten from Antwerp.
Parisian artist David Bruce 'grew up' on basketball courts, and now makes these kind of colourful artworks at his atelier in Liege.
Belgian visual artist Joëlle Dubois is known for her intimate and unpolished artworks.
Where to spot Street Art in Sint-Niklaas
Sint-Niklaas has got the longest graffiti wall of Belgium, and throughout the city there are tens of other pieces to discover. Stop by at the tourism office to get a free copy of the Street Art Tour Map, or download it here. Below I will share the ones I liked most.
Belgian muralist Dzia named this work 'Art Falco Peregrinus Deco' which shows a falcon and an Art Deco motif, as it is situated in one of the most beautiful Art Deco streets of Sint-Niklaas. At the moment I took this picture I was lucky to witness this duck crossing the street :)
☞ Monseigneur Stillemansstraat
At Spoorweglaan you will find this beautiful work called 'Daydream' by Belgian street artist Kitsune Jolene.
I love the way she watches trains passing by.
You can find this hypecourt (a basketball court turned into an artwork) created by Belgian artist Lindert Steegen.
I am Eelco (artist Eelco van den Berg from The Netherlands) created this colourful work .
Coffee and food in Sint-Niklaas
Start your day with a coffee from Manuvèl. In my opinion a must if you like coffee ánd bikes! Those with a sweet tooth can choose from several home made sweets ranging from muffins, pies and cakes.
Wednesday to Saturday 10:00-17:00, Sunday 10:00-13:00, closed on Monday and Tuesday.
If you prefer the combination of coffee and plants, then Mos en Mok is definitely the place for you.
Owner Eline opened the doors of this lovely shop in September 2020. It is situated in an art deco building at the corner of a street. On the menu is coffee, tea, sweets and wine. We've tried the brownie which just came out of the oven, and it was simply perfect!
Tuesday to Friday 10:00-17:00, Saturday 10:00-18:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
Not a coffee lover, but more a tea enthusiast? In that case, make sure to stop by at Biochi.
Here you will find several top quality organic teas like Green, Oolong, Black, White, Yellow and Dark (Pu'erh). Owner Zhou will tell you very passionately about all the differences, and will explain why these teas are so unique.
Monday to Thursday 14:00-18:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00-18:00, closed on Sunday.
We've ordered delicious (white and jasmine) Ice Tea for take away, and bought Green Tea from the southern Chinese province of Yunnan to try at home.
Soep & Zoet has lunch dishes for take away, like this tasty vegetarian bagel with sweet potato for example. For their home made products they use seasonal and local produce. And they even offer a wide range of gluten- and lactose free options.
Tuesday to Saturday 09:30-17:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
Lara Mora is a package free shop where you can get local and organic produce. This is the perfect place to get vegan (gluten-free options too) cookies for desert after your lunch.
We've tried the very tasty heart shaped speculoos cookies. Because, nothing but love for this place!
Tuesday to Saturday 09:30-18:00, Wednesday 14:00-18:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
Where to shop local in Sint-Niklaas
Van Poeck is a specialty coffee and tea shop since 1866. But besides tea and coffee there are tens of other sweet and savoury delicacies like honey, chocolate, jam, olive oils, herbs, spices, nuts, dried pastas, wines...
The list goes on!
And of course we couldn't leave without buying whole coffee beans from their own micro-roastery.
Tuesday to Saturday 09:00-18:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
The stylish and creative Jolien opened in 2019 her own clothing store called Pêche in the heart of the city. In this charming store you will find timeless and contemporary fashion items from several European brands. For me it was such a pleasure to shop in this warm and welcoming environment, a true authentic experience you won't find often.
Tuesday to Saturday 10:00-18:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
And last but not least, the shop with the most impressive architecture in Sint-Niklaas: bar-bara!
This is THE place to go to if you look for interior and lifestyle objects like scarfs, pillows, wallets, lamps, furniture, clocks, vases, and so on...
The driving force behind this wonderful place is Barbara, who has an eye for detail and a nose for ecologically sound products. Barbara solely works together with trusted brands from Belgium, The Netherlands and Scandinavia. Places like these make my heart sing!
Thursday to Saturday 11:00-18:00, closed from Sunday to Wednesday.
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How to get to Sint-Niklaas
The city of Sint-Niklaas is located in the flemish province of East Flanders and situated roughly between Antwerp and Ghent.
A train will take you to Sint-Niklaas within:
20 minutes from Antwerp
30 minutes from Ghent
1 hour from Brussels
Please note: this post is not sponsored.