From fortress to prison, and from residence to museum, Het Steen has served various functions over the centuries as the oldest building in the city. It was once the location of the Vierschaar, the former courthouse on the corner of Mattenstraat. After an extensive renovation project, the original building now shines as a tourist center, welcoming the many visitors who come to admire the sights of this beautiful city.
In this ancient castle on Steenplein, near the former Flandria kiosk, you will find not only a Visitor Center and a cruise terminal but also the new attraction, The Antwerp Story, which offers the perfect introduction to the city. One thing is certain: after a visit to Het Steen, you will be fully prepared to explore Antwerp and its numerous attractions, such as the Central Station, the Grand Market, Antwerp Zoo, and the many charming squares of Antwerp.
Are you looking for a city map or information about specific attractions? Do you want to know which restaurants in Antwerp are worth a visit? Or would you like to book tickets for a guided tour in a specific neighborhood? Then be sure to stop by the visitors' center, where multilingual staff will be happy to assist you. Moreover, you will also find a wide range of fun Antwerp souvenirs, tasty local products, and a variety of gadgets. Make sure to take the opportunity to admire a part of the old, original castle wall as well!
Above the visitors' center, there is a brand-new attraction: The Antwerp Story. Follow the route and discover more about the fascinating history of Antwerp in each room. Thanks to the amazing interactive and multimedia spaces, you will learn a lot about the city in a short amount of time and get acquainted with the different museums, neighborhoods, and, of course, the people of Antwerp themselves. Keep your notebook or smartphone handy because you will gather a lot of inspiration for your visit to the historical city of Antwerp.
Would you like to delve even deeper into the history of the castle and its surroundings? Then join one of the four unique themed walks. Professional guides will accompany you with great enthusiasm through 800 years of Antwerp history. Get ready for an amazing tour through The Antwerp Story, an exciting ghost walk around the castle, or an extraordinary game walk with lots of fun prizes!
If you want to enjoy a magnificent view, you can climb to the rooftop terrace of Het Steen. From there, you can overlook the Scheldt River, the city, and the nearby harbor. Is a cruise ship arriving or departing? Then this is the perfect place to warmly welcome or bid farewell to the passengers. As you will quickly discover, Het Steen is the perfect starting point and one of the top recommendations for your visit to Antwerp!
The castle was built in the 13th century as part of the city wall. It served as a gateway to protect access to the city via the Scheldt River. In 1520, under the rule of Charles V, the castle was completely renovated and expanded. To this day, his coat of arms can be found above the entrance of the former chapel.
In 1549, Charles V donated the building to the city, after which it was used as a prison until 1823. The cross above the entrance still marks the spot where convicts said their final prayers on their way to execution. After briefly being in private hands five years later, the city repurchased the building in 1842. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Scheldt River was widened near Het Steen, and the quays were rebuilt. Several parts of the castle fell victim to this massive construction site. Fortunately, some sections of the historical building have been preserved and have since been given the simple name "Het Steen."
In 1864, the first museum was opened in Het Steen, which was replaced by the Maritime Museum in 1952. After this collection was transferred to the nearby MAS (Museum aan de Stroom), plans were approved in 2017 to renovate the castle. Since 2021, you will find a practical visitor center here, providing tourist information, a beautiful relaxation area, stunning exhibitions, and an amazing adventure course that tells the history of the city and the building.
In front of the castle stands the Lange Wapper statue by local artist Albert Poels. According to legend, this giant, who was said to have lived in the castle, would follow drunkards on their way home, especially after sunset. Lange Wapper is said to be a small man who can grow into the size of a real giant. However, the people of Antwerp discovered that Lange Wapper couldn't tolerate images of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, they placed statues of Mary on their houses, which explains the origin of the many Mary statues in the city. The giant kept fleeing further away from the city center until he fell into the Scheldt River and drowned.
Are you planning a stay soon to admire the beautiful museums of Antwerp and the many other attractions? Don't hesitate any longer and book a room today at our hotels in Antwerp Centre or Antwerp South, our comfortable B&B HOTELS in Antwerp.
As you will experience yourself, a visit to Antwerp is definitely worth it!