Antwerp, Koningin Astridplein 7
It’s a little bit of a shame. Chocolate Nation, a museum about Belgian chocolate, opened a year ago and I haven’t written about it yet. Years ago I learned the history and production of chocolate. For example, I have done many chocolate walks and guided different exhibitions about chocolate. This new museum in Antwerp bundles everything.
Chocolate Nation is very well located, on the Astridplein, across the Central Station. Until the beginning of 2017, Aquatopia was established here, a large aquarium complex. Over a year, the building was stripped and completely redesigned for the chocolate museum.
The museum is conceived as an experience trail. You follow a trail through different halls (with occasional tasting) and in the meantime you hear the audio guide tell you about the chocolate bean, the production and the Antwerp chocolate. Some visitors even describe it as a kind of Disneyland with chocolate. Every room is beautifully designed with many digital gadgets. Especially the ‘restaurant’ is nice where you sit at large round tables and a little chef crawls on your plate. This mini chef has his own door to the exhibition and can be found in almost every room …
Many inventions have been made with chocolate in Belgium, which also have a worldwide reputation. Just think of the chocolate praline, the ballotin (the box in which pralines are usually packaged, before chocolate candies were packed in a kind of fries bag), the filled chocolate bar and also the Magnum ice cream.
There was also a lot of chocolate activity in Antwerp. There were large chocolate and cookie companies, such as De Beukelaer, Meurisse and Parein. Funny detail is that these three large factories were all located at a station. De Beukelaer behind Central Station, Meurisse at Dam station and Parein at Station Zuid (South).
At the end of the course you literally end up in a chocolate heaven. Here you can taste 10 types of chocolate with your own spoon. You can also taste the ruby here, a pink-purple chocolate, also a Belgian invention.
If you don’t have enough chocolate, you can still buy chocolate in the museum shop. Here you will find brands that you cannot buy anywhere else. There is even a safe in the store. If you do not have time to book the museum (a visit lasts at least an hour), you can go to the store located next to the ticket counter. If after all that chocolate you still have a little hunger, you can satisfy your hunger at the ‘Octave‘ restaurant.