The Stone

Walk down the Grand Place, and you will find yourself at the banks of the river Scheldt. There you will front the imposing monument The Stone (Het Steen), the oldest building in Antwerp. It was named this way because it was the first building in the city constructed with stones at a time when most houses were still built with wood.

This medieval castle we see today is only a fraction of what remained from a much larger complex. It was built in the early 12th century at the site of an older 9th-century fortress, near a former peninsula called De Werf. Over the centuries the fortress used to function as a city fortification and had served a number of purposes, including a prison.

In 1862 it opened as the Museum of Antiquities and since1952 it served as the National Maritime Museum. In 2008 the main collection has moved to the new MAS museum, today there is nothing to be seen inside the castle itself. The ancient monument is undergoing a substantial renovation, planned till 2020. In the meantime be sure to walk by the photogenic castle, it’s the perfect background for a fairy-tale photo along the Scheldt River.

Near the entrance of the castle stands one of Antwerp's most famous statues: Lange Wapper. He was a Flemish folkloric character,  who was to have a devilish character and enjoyed teasing the inhabitants of the city in medieval times. He had the ability to make himself grow bigger which explained the reason for his taller size as compared to the other two shorter men standing in front of him.