Medieval Antwerp

<strong>Whispered past</strong><br /> <br /> The oldest traces of Antwerp are not found in bricks.Antwerpgrants a view of its distant past to those who dare to look.Discover traces of the medieval city by the river.<br />

 

The first steps

Antwerp’s oldest memory goes back to the 2nd and 3rd century:that’s when Gallo-Romans settled near Het Steen.After this our archaeological memory stalls… until the 9th century when the Scheldt River physically defined the margraviate Antwerp.An earthen rampart reinforced that border against the Vikings.The city developed behind the ramparts on the right bank. The left bank was foreign territory for centuries.That resonated in the language:people from Antwerp saw ‘those from across the water’ as foreign and hostile.

Het Steen – the first fortress

To defend themselves better, Antwerp’s residents built Het Steen and they dug a wide moat, which they surrounded with a stone fortress wall. The only remains left today are the Steenpoort and a few wall fragments in the Vleeshuisstraat and at Zakstraat number 6. The local population demarcated its terrain with water (ruien), gates and bridges thereby creating a ruien city. You can visit that city… underground. On the 900-year-old path you’ll discover the only remaining medieval Wijngaarde bridge.

Streets and statues

Antwerp’s street layout is a silent witness.The triangular shape of the Grote Markt and the radial street plan, which has largely disappeared, are typical of the Early Middle Ages.Street names with the word “vest” refer to the 13th century when Antwerp’s residents were allowed to confirm their independence within the Duchy of Brabant with defensive moats.The statues at the main entrance of the cathedral are a tangible witness:a tribute to the people who helped spread Christianity.
Want to know more?Surf with your mobile device to Antwerpen Doorgrond and discover our underground or aboveground immoveable heritage from the ancient or recent past. 

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Central Station

Central Station

The Antwerp Central Station, also known as Middenstatie (Middle station) or Spoorwegkathedraal (Railroad Cathedral), was first used in 1905. The structure is made up from a steel platform covering and a stone station building in an eclectic style. Recently, the station was completely renovated and in 2007 a tunnel underneath the station and a part of Antwerp was opened, reverting the station’s status as a terminus where are all trains have to turn back. In 2009, the American magazine Newsweek chose the Antwerp Central Station as the fourth most beautiful train station in the world.

Vlaeykensgang

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The secret Vlaeykensgang alley dates from 1591 and connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt Pelgrimstraat with one another. Walk through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and you feel as if you have journeyed back in time. In the past this alley was where the shoemakers and the poorest people in the city lived. The shoemakers were also in charge of sounding the alarm bell of the cathedral. These days you can find antiques stores and art galleries here as well as the exclusive restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The atmosphere is very intimate which is why many people also like to come here to listen to the carillon concerts during the summertime.

The Underpass

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The MAS is the most prominent place where the city and the port come together, both literally and figuratively. The 60 metre tall tower – a feat of daring architecture – has already become a new landmark in Antwerp. The MAS is focusing on the city’s diversity and reflecting on the many contacts between cultures, both past and present. The museum collection tells the story of the city, the port and the world. On the roof of the MAS, you can also enjoy panoramic views over Antwerp.

Vlaeykensgang

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