5 Unusual places to see in Antwerp (Flanders - Belgium)

It took not 1 or 2 but 3 daytrips from Brussels for me to see it all! Antwerp was very high in my wishlist for several reasons. One - it has 3 UNESCO Sites, visiting which would complete my list of sites in Belgium! Two - Peter Paul Rubens (there's Rubens House where he lived, Notredame Church which has 2 of his paintings and more)! Three -......... that would be the first point of the 5 points in this post! So here are 5 very unique, weird, quirky things to do in Antwerpen.






1. Zomerfabriek Murals: Belgium is known for its murals! Brussels has so many! Remember the gorgeous Squirrel graffiti in Sonian Forest? Antwerp is the best of places for Belgian murals. Guess why? It has 3000 sqm of murals at one place! Zomerfabriek just translates to Summer Factory! Its a lively, youthful, summer party that happens every year in summer. More than 60 international graffiti artists meet up here, and the event is called 'Meeting of Styles'! After the event is over, the rest of the year, the murals are just there for everyone to enjoy, 24x7!!!



2. St.Anna's escalator & tunnels: If one of the world's oldest functioning metro is in Budapest, one of the world's oldest functioning escalator is in Antwerp! This was built in 1933. Since 1874, the residents of Antwerp wanted a way to cross Scheldt river. The original idea was to build a bridge. However with the risk of ship traffic being hindered, the idea was given up. Eventually in 1931, the idea to make a tunnel was proposed and accepted. Till date, the tunnel is being used by pedestrians and cyclists alike to walk from one bank of Scheldt to another. 
The escalator also is the original which has been in use since 1933. Guess what's the material of this escalator? Wood!!! I've never in my life, so far, have stepped on a wooden escalator. It is a very weird feeling. The sound of the wood and the traditional revolving chains is really amusing! This is open 24x7 as well.
3. Nello and Patrache Statue: Just in front of Notre Dame Church in Antwerp, in the courtyard is this white marble statue which you can't miss! This was created by local artist Batist Vermeulen in Dec 2016. This is a art installation in public that's open 24x7.
The story of Nello and Patrache is a bit sad one! They are the main characters of the novel - 'The dog of Flanders'! The poor, orphaned, little boy Nello used to visit the church everyday to see the beautiful paintings of Rubens. The dog also met him often there. Eventually they died together due to hardships. 
4. The lady at Pieter Appleman's monument: Ok! This may not be a permanent feature, but very quirky and interesting nevertheless! In front of Notre Dame Church, close to its wall is the Pieter Appleman's Monument. Pieter Appleman was one of the architects of the church and this group of sculptures depicting 4 people working on the church construction depicts him and his father Jan Appelmans.
When I was here on a freezing winter evening, one of these sculptures started to move!!! Well, its a lady, dressed looking almost like one of those sculptures! While the sculpture is there 24x7, I am not sure when this lady is available. I can't help but wonder how was she withstanding the weather!!!
5. Vlaeykensgang: This street is Antwerp's version of Liege's Impasse des Ursulines, where poor people and servants of richmen lived in yesteryears. The street dates from 1591. While its just off-Notre Dame, an area that's very busy, this street looks frozen in time!

To Get There:

To Antwerp: Refer to my earlier post
Except Zomerfabriek, rest are in the city centre and are walkable from Antwerp Centraal and from each other.  Zomerfabriek is close to Antwerp Bercham and can be reached by tram from city centre. Public transport in Antwerp is by metro, tram & bus and it is free with Antwerp City Card.

Zomerfabriek Murals: Begin at the crossroads of Pretoriastraat and Krugerstraat (this can be walked from Antwerp Bercham station), where you will see the intro mural of Meeting of Styles, Zomerfabriek. The whole of Krugerstraat is filled on both sides with murals and continues to Minkelersstraat and Vlijtstraat.
Vlaeykensgang: Walk through the gate at Oude Koornmarkt 16 and tucked in there is this place!

P.S: I was given Antwerp City Card by Visit Antwerp to experience the city for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

15 comments:

  1. Jane Dempster-SmithJanuary 25, 2019 at 3:14 AM

    Thank you for your article on Antwerp. We visited Bruges and Ghent last year and never made it to Antwerp. I think we have missed out on seeing so much. We really enjoy street art! This is a must next time we are in Belgium.

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  2. Wow! Such beautiful street art. I love the 3rd and the 5th one. These murals are truly instagrammable. The meet-up of graffiti artists is a wonderful idea. I hope we can have one in my local area as well.

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  3. When visiting Belgium last year, I primarily loved 2 things and happy that they are listed in this post.

    1. The lady at Pieter Appleman's monument
    2. Zomerfabriek Murals

    Recommend you to visit African countries. (Note: Don't visit during summer)

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  4. I love to find street art hidden in vibrant cities around the world. Great finds!

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  5. You have covered feel very interesting sights of Antwerp which I was not aware of, especially the oldest escalator, that seems to be really interesting to know. I would love to take pictures of all the murals when I go to Antwerp, plus those statues are mind-blowing. I'm sure it's a very pretty City.

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  6. I have to say, I don't remember any of these attractions when I was in Antwerp. The oldest escalator is fascinating, and it doesn't look too bad! The art festival sounds very cool, and something I'd like to see.

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  7. I love all of the street art that you photographed! I did a quick day trip to Antwerp and Brussels many years ago, while visiting friends in the Netherlands. We were so rushed that we didn't get to really explore the cities. I think maybe it's time to go back and spend more time in Belgium.

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  8. We loved our half day walking tour of Antwerp. IT's such a beautiful city with great architecture. But this post makes me realise that there are so many places we missed. And all of them make me want to make time for Antwerp yet again.

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  9. World's oldest functioning escalator? That sounds interesting. I have never been to Belgium, leave alone Brussels or Antwerp but I have to get there someday. Love those wall murals by the way. You managed to cover all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium? That is super cool!

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  10. I really like street art, that's one of the major part of my travels. Also, these statues present in different parts of Europe are very fascinating. Budapest overall sounds like a place that is one of its kinds.

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  11. I love Belgium. Never been to Antwerp but 3 UNESCO Sites would be great reason for me to visit this city in summer. I had no idea it has the World's oldest functioning escalator

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  12. Wow this place is truly interesting! I admire the community for supporting new artists to make this place more gorgeous :D

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  13. I've only had a chance to stop by Antwerp for a couple of hours and didn't really get to see much of the city, and now I'm having all the regrets about that! I had no idea there were so many murals there - all of which are stunning. And a wooden escalator?! I didn't even know those existed. What a unique opportunity to get to ride on a wooden escalator.

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  14. its an amazing place, i want to go once in life to explore the place. Thanks for sharing the beautiful info.

    Regards,
    Ravin...

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  15. I really like street art, that's one of the major part of my travels. Also, these statues present in different parts of Europe are very fascinating. Even I have never stepped on a wooden escalator. Didn't have any idea that something like this exists in the first place.

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