Medieval Antwerp

Whispered past

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.

 

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. 

Contact





Book now

Opening Days

Special opening days

Special closing days

Individual visitors

Price per person:

Reduction rates

Card holders

City Card: .

Groups

Prices

Schools

Prices

Others also viewed

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

Vlaeykensgang

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

The Underpass

St Anna’s Tunnel – or Underpass, as the locals like to refer to it – was opened in 1933. Both on the left and on the right bank, you can still access the tunnel using the authentic wooden escalators which were unique at the opening.

Modernism – 20th century

Modernism – 20th century

Since World War I left Antwerp mutilated, it was time for optimistic renovation.Antwerp’s architects explore functional, innovative styles that don’t leave room for decoration.Walk through modernistic Antwerp.

Related content

The top 10 coffee bars within walking distance of Antwerp must-sees

The top 10 coffee bars within walking distance of Antwerp must-sees

Antwerp is truly heaven for coffee lovers, with coffee bars on practically every street corner. But how are they different from each other? Where to find the ultimate cuppa that suits your taste and what is the story behind it? Coffee roaster Koen Bleuzé shares his top 10 favourite coffee bars and explains his choices.

Antwerp City Card

Antwerp City Card

Get all you can out of Antwerp! Are you interested in exploring all of Antwerp? Then use the Antwerp City Card as your guide. The card will open the nicest, tastiest and most surprising doors of the city for you, for free or at a discount. What’s more, you can choose how long you want to use it. 

Seven tips for your visit to the Plantin-Moretus Museum

Seven tips for your visit to the Plantin-Moretus Museum

There’s lots to see and experience at the redesigned Plantin-Moretus Museum. Step into the world of pioneering publisher Plantin and his in-laws, the Moretus family. Seven tips for an extra special museum visit.

Sunday Shopping

Sunday Shopping

Many of the shops in the historical city centre are open every first Sunday of the month. Performances and small mobile events like the Antwerp Fashion Festival and Models on Wheels make Sunday shopping an even more memorable experience. 

Parking in Antwerp

Parking in Antwerp

Antwerp is a vibrant city. And all those residents and visitors who bring so much life to the city also require a lot of parking for their cars. In order to give everyone an equal chance at a parking spot, there is paid parking in many places throughout Antwerp.