The Castle of Antwerp


Antwerp Castle.


View of Antwerp from the Scheldt river.
View of Antwerp from the Scheldt river.


It is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium, which never ceases to amaze the visitor every time he goes to visit it. Located in the north of the country, next to the border with the Netherlands, it is the most important city in the country after the capital, Brussels. A strategic commercial enclave thanks to the river Scheldt, Antwerp has the third busiest merchant port in Europe. Likewise, Antwerp is known as the capital of diamond, since almost 80% of the production of this rough stone passes through the city’s port.

About Antwerp Castle However.

The city is much more than a commercial village and here we can enjoy beautiful and historical buildings that leave the visitor impressed. One of the most significant is the Castle of Antwerp. Or, in Dutch, Het Steen ( It is the oldest building preserved in the city, since it is believed that the first time it was built was around the year 650 in the same place where the current castle is located. Although there was a big difference, the old castle was built in sandstone, hence it was destroyed, and the current one was made in stone.

All this area since the 7th century was the target of Viking raids that came from the north and the Scheldt river crosses the entire city of Antwerp, and made the city a simple target. For this reason, the decision was made to build this military settlement in the middle of this century on this ledge along the river. As we have pointed out, this first sandstone construction deteriorates over time and at the beginning of the 11th century a stone reconstruction of the building begins. At that time the building was known as Burcht Antwerpen (the Fortress of Antwerp).

A bit of his past.

In the year 1520 Carlos V decided to restore the building and expand it. There the name of the fortress changed, since it was called by its current name, Het Steen, which in Dutch means “the rock”. Because in this language “steen” means stone, which refers to the material with the that is built.

The Castle has had different uses: at the beginning it was used as a defensive fortress, in the 13th century it became the residence of Márgrave de Antwerp, from 1303 to 1827, almost five hundred years, it was used as a prison and until the restoration that is currently suffering it was used as a National Museum of the Navy.

When the traveler reaches the Steen promenade and observes the entrance of the castle, several things attract his attention. In addition to the beauty of the building, and they are usually two sculptures. On the one hand, we have the sculpture of Lange Wapper, the giant of Antwerp. And, according to the legend created in the 16th century. There was a giant, of normal size, that if it found children or adults drunk in the street when night had already fallen, it grew and grew, frightening the population and making them return home. quickly. This legend is so famous among the citizens of Antwerp that, as you can see, it has a sculpture in one of the most important points of the city.

Area where the Castle of Antwerp 1520, old port, was located. Vs current port area.
Area where the Castle of Antwerp 1520, old port, was located. Vs current port area.
Curiosities of the Castle of Antwerp.

On the other hand, the other sculpture that will catch your attention is the representation of the god Semini and you may not notice it because due to the passage of time this bas-relief is almost priceless, since it is said to date from the 2nd century. But why do we have the representation of the God of fertility at the entrance of this fortress? Well, because legend has it that women came to pray to him and ask him to get pregnant. It was a place of worship and pilgrimage. It is said that the sculpture was endowed with a large phallus, but that in the 16th century the Puritan church decided to suppress this attribute of God.

If you want to discover more about Antwerp and its castle, we encourage you to join our Free Tour Antwerp. Or maybe you are in Brussels and you want us to accompany you from the capital and thus be able to do the full-day Antwerp Tour.