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The new sex district was created in , after a decade when Antwerp faced a growing problem of dangerous prostitution in the part of the city where sailors stayed. Mobsters moved onto those streets and occasionally fought, driving out non-prostitution businesses, Weitzer writes.
In , the city's mayor squeezed prostitution into a heavily regulated, three-block "tolerance zone. This regulation makes Antwerp's red light district a relaxing place to visit, even if it may not be as entertaining as other red light districts. A New York Times Magazine travel piece described the city's prostitution district as the perfect place for an after-dinner walk:. Inside the tiny, large-windowed storefronts, women of all ages, races and shapes chatted on cell phones, read magazines or posed suggestively.
Many were strikingly beautiful and most, apparently health conscious, had large bottles of spring water beside their stools. These women may be happier than sex workers in other red light districts because they get to socialize with one another. While "window rooms" in other districts may be relatively siloed, the units in Antwerp are connected in blocks of three, five, or seven units, according to Weitzer.
Antwerp's prostitution zone is pretty much the antithesis of the spectacle found in Amsterdam. Here's what Amsterdam resident Shannon McAllister had to say about the red light district in a post on About. The close proximity of Amsterdam's Red Light District to the city's main train terminal, Centraal Station, means it's often a first stop for visitors who arrive having heard all about the famously provocative area.
Expect the obvious groups — herds of men celebrating a bachelor weekend, gaggles of girls embarrassing a bride, college kids who've been planted in bars and coffee shops for hours on end — as well as the more unexpected — senior travelers fresh off a cruise ship, pointing and giggling at the fleshy sights all around.