Het Steen - National Maritime Museum, Antwerp

78 Reviews

Steenplein 1, 2000 Antwerpen + 32 (0)3-201 93 40

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • The Steen
    The Steen
    by EasyMalc
  • Het Steen - National Maritime Museum
    by mickeyboy07
  • Lange Wapper
    Lange Wapper
    by EasyMalc
  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    The Oldest Building In Antwerp

    by johngayton Written May 29, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Het Steen, literally "The Stone", is often referred to as The Castle but was originally one of the old city's fortified gates, dating from around the 12th century. The building attached to the gateway was used as a prison from 1300, or so, until about 1827.

    Under Charles V (circa 1520) it was rebuilt as a fortress with its commanding field of fire over the river, thus protecting the port and the Medieval city. When the docks were redeveloped in the early 19th century the surrounding area was levelled to allow the strengthening of the river banks and the construction of new wharves.

    From 1890 the building was used to house the Archaeological Museum and then in 1952 an annex was added to accommodate the Maritime Museum which has since moved to the MAS

    The present-day building still houses a museum, but unfortunately this is shut on Mondays (when I was there), and is also used for educational workshops.

    An interesting digression is that if you look above the gateway you'll notice a small, well-worn, bas-relief figure. This the Scandinavian god Semini, the god of fertility, who would have been appealed to by local women having difficulty conceiving. You'll also note that there appears to be an "appendage" missing. This was cut off by Spanish Jesuits soon after the Duke of Parma's capture of the city in 1587.

    Also in the grounds is a 1962 sculpture by Albert Poels of Lange Wapper. Wapper is a legendary Flemish figure who could grow at will and stride from town to town to terrorise the inhabitants. According to one account his favourite pastime was to accost young mothers to drink their breast milk.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • EasyMalc's Profile Photo

    The Steen and Lange Wapper

    by EasyMalc Updated Sep 12, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Steen might look impressive but when it was built in the 13th century as a gatehouse it formed only a very small part of the castle and fortifications that guarded the city and its port.
    At a time when most buildings were constructed of wood the gatehouse became the first notable building to be built of stone (steen in Dutch) - hence its name.
    The castle was thoroughly renovated by Charles V around 1520 and the different coloured stone can easily be detected. It was used as a prison right up until the 1820s and later that century a decision was made to demolish most of the remaining historic buildings to prevent the Schelde silting up. It couldn't have been an easy decision to make but the port was - and still is - vital to Antwerp. The Steen survived (by 1 vote) and was then renovated and turned into an archaeological museum in 1890. In 1952 it then became the Maritime Museum until it was transferred to the MAS in 2010/11. The Steen has recently been turned into a children's activity centre but you can still wander around the outside of the building.
    In front of the building is a statue of Lange Wapper, another giant of Antwerp. This giant was no hand thrower but somebody who took great pleasure in upsetting other people. He wasn't a true giant like Antigoon but someone who could make himself grow tall whenever he chose. He liked to annoy drunks, women and even children. Apparently he could make himself tall enough to peer in through the castle's upper windows. The bronze statue, which doesn't quite reach up that far, was made in 1963 by Albert Poels.

    The Steen Lange Wapper
    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Het Steen

    by mickeyboy07 Written Aug 29, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp and near the River Scheldt.Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp.Het Steen is the city's oldest building.The fortress gained its current name in around 1520,after significant rebuilding under 'Charles V'.The rebuilding led to its being known first as 's Heeren Steen'(the King's stone castle),and later simply as 'Hep Steen'(the stone castle).The fortress made it possible to control the access to the River Scheldt,it was used as a prison from 1303 to 1827.At the entrance to the castle stands a statue of a Giant and two Humans,it depicts the 'Large Wapper' who used to terrorise inhabitants of the city in medieval times.
    visiting daily except monday:10.00-17.00

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • jlanza29's Profile Photo

    It looks like a fairytale !!!!

    by jlanza29 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    I must say Steen castle as it's known looks like a castle right out of a storybook... it now houses the Maritime Naval museum, unfortantely the day we were there it was closed.... but we were able to walk around it... it was built in the late 13th century... yet another place to come to when I come again to Antwerp !!!!

    It almost looks fake !!!!

    Was this review helpful?

  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Castle on the Schelde

    by mrclay2000 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This ancient castle is all that is left of a once-enormous fortification. Built in large part in the early 1200s but begun far earlier, it is Antwerp's oldest building and one of its (at present) free attractions. The view above shows separate building styles from two different eras fused into the same building, which makes me wonder what kind of comglomeration once stood here in 1850. The visitor can wander around to his heart's desire, from the courtyard to the ramparts and wherever access is granted, to get an idea of medieval defenses, though the castle also served once as a prison. You can see from the above photo the old archer's windows (narrow slits), and from the outside different layers of the building stones of the era. On the quay above you understand how the castle once functioned as a 'watchtower' over the Schelde which was and remains the city's most important trade and traffic artery.

    Het Steen, old fort at left, newer wings at right
    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • FilipDemuinck's Profile Photo

    Het Steen, the oldest building of Antwerp

    by FilipDemuinck Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A pity it was a rainy day in Antwerp, but I still enjoyed my walk on the quays. The castle "Het Steen" (translation - The Stone) was build in the year 1200 and is now the oldest building in Antwerp. Between the 14th and the 18th century it was a prison were all kinds of horrible executions took place. It's strange to know you walk through a building were people were cut into pieces. It's better to focus on the architecture and the views of the Schelde. Certainly worth visiting.

    Link:
    http://filipdemuinck-kristelpardon.blogspot.com/2010/01/quays-and-castle-steen-antwerp-de.html

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo

    Steen

    by mvtouring Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Steen is where my friend dropped us for our excursion and sightseeing by ourselves of Antwerp. I had been year in 2001 with a day tour from Amsterdam, but was not able to visit it for long. The Steen is about the same age as the city and according to legend, the giant Druoon Antigoon lived here in the castle.
    Around 830 the Vikings destroyed the fortress, but around 1520 it was restored by order of King Charles the fifth. In the 18th century, it was used as a prison.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    'T Steen

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    "Steen" means "stone", an appropriate name for this imposing castle. Dating from about 1200, it's Antwerp's oldest building. In fact, this is the only surviving part of the old medieval part of the city. It guarded the entrance to the city for centuries. Then, from 1549 to 1823, it served as a prison. Until recently, it housed the National Maritime Museum (recently moved).

    't Steen
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • mallyak's Profile Photo

    ANTWERP : The Steen

    by mallyak Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    'Steen' is the Dutch word for 'stone'. In Antwerp the 'Steen' is the name of the little castle that can be seen at the entrance of the city center, on the border of the river Scheldt. The castle is called that way because it was one of the earliest buildings in Antwerp constructed with stones (at a time when most houses were still built with wood). The name 'Steen' can be found in other cities too. It always refers to a castle-like fortification (e.g.: the castle of the counts of Flanders in the city of Gent is also called 'Graven-steen', or (stone) Castle of the Counts).
    The Antwerp Steen has been renovated numerous times. It was probably built as a part of the fortification around the city in the 13th century. In 1520, during the reign of Charles V, the castle was renovated by the architects Keldermans and De Waghemakere. The chapel which forms a loggia above the entrance dates from this period. It bears the motto of Charles V 'Plus Outre'. At the entrance a relief statue can be seen of a man with spread out legs. This statue also used to have a very large *** and was therefore venerated by numerous women looking for a cure against infertility. The Jesuits found the statue too obscene in the 17th century.... and off went the decoration of the statue !

    Was this review helpful?

  • mallyak's Profile Photo

    The National Navigation Museum

    by mallyak Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Steen was used as a prison from 1549 until 1823. As from 1862 it was used as the Archeological Museum. It was again renovated in 1889-1890 and a Neo-gothic wing was added to the building. Since 1952 The National Navigation Museum is housed here. Next to the castle are the large storage halls of the 19th century harbor. Here can be seen numerous vessels and boats which belong to the Maritime Museum.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Well set out museum with English information

    by nettyfitz Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This museum is situated in the oldest building in Antwerp and was built from the 10th century. It is a maze of little stairways and rooms full of model ships and all things nautical. There is also an outside area full of real ships.

    The museum is only about 4 euros to visit and it is free if you are over 65 years.

    National Maritime Museum Message in a Bottle Outside exhibit Outside exhibit Outside exhibit
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • rita_simoes's Profile Photo

    Castle and Museum

    by rita_simoes Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Known as ‘t Steen (The Stone) it stands by the river and once formed part of the town’s fortifications. The castle is called that way because it was one of the earliest buildings in Antwerp constructed with stones (at a time when most houses were still built with wood).

    Nowadays, it is the house of the National Maritime Museum. I didn't go inside, so I can't give any tips about it, but on the outside it is quite picturesque!

    Was this review helpful?

  • mimi9877's Profile Photo

    Amazing museum

    by mimi9877 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    This castle converted into a museum is one of the best that I have ever seen! The people who put this together really know what they are doing. The price was 7.50 euro per person and we spent a good 3 hours just looking. We couldve stayed longer if time permitted. There is parking on the street in front and the scenery around the castle is great too. I highly recommend this one.

    Steenplein this is the statue outside the castle models of old ships fastastic artwork artifacts from ship building days of past

    Was this review helpful?

  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    Het Steen

    by Airpunk Updated Apr 4, 2011

    This fortress was built in the 13th century as part of the city’s fortification, replacing predecessor buildings dating back to the 7th century. Compared to similar fortresses, it didn’t retain its original fuction for long time. From 1549 until 1829, it became a prison. From 1862 on, it was turned to an archeoligical museum before it became the maritime museum in 1952. In the late 19th century, some parts were added to the building, all constructed in neogothic style. This makes “Het Steen” a building where “original” gothic and new gothic styles meet. Het Steen means “the stone”, but this term is also used for smaller castles. The fortress is the oldest building still standing in Antwerp.

    I haven’t visited the Maritime Museum, so I can’t tell you how it is like.

    Het Steen
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • ZiOOlek's Profile Photo

    The Steen

    by ZiOOlek Updated Apr 4, 2011

    The oldest building in Antwerp is an 800-year old castle known as The Steen (stone in English).

    Only one building of the old part of Antwerp escaped demolition when the quays on the river Scheldt were constructed in the 19th century: 't Steen (the Stone). The Steen was built around the year 1200 as the fortification of the alluvial mound. It was named Steen, which is Dutch for stone, as it was one of the first buildings constructed in stone.

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Antwerp

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

103 travelers online now

Comments

View all Antwerp hotels