In 1859 it is decided to built surrounding forts around Antwerp following the plans of general Henri Brialmont, militairy engeneer.
1. A wall of 15 km around the city.
2. A ring of 8 forts (Wijnegem, Wommelgem, Borsbeek, Mortsel, Edegem, Wilrijk (Fort VI en VII), Hoboken) The 8 forts are approximately 2.000 m from each other and form a line with the wall around Antwerp.
3. Between the forts there are strongholds.
The firm Pauwels, was asked to built it in november 1859.
To built Fort IV 785 hectares were expropriated from 11 owners.
70 morters and cannons had, together with 888 men, to defend the fort.
After the war the fort became a weapon depot.
Fort 4 was used untill 1999, the last of the forts.
Today you can walk around the fort and through its green surroundings. There are also guided tours every third sunday of the month.
Cantecroy is one of the oldest castles in the Antwerp region. It is not known when it was exactly eatablished. Arnoldus van Canticrode was mentioned when signing a paper in 1239.
Today the castle is private property and not open to the public.
A lovely small castle in typical flemish style. The oldest mention dates from 1270, from the papers of the OnzeLieve vrouwe church in Antwerp.
All buildings belonged to castle Cantincrode. Two big trees in front of castle Ten Dorpe are elm trees and about 80 years old. The digging of a deep railroadtrack (1934) took all the water out of the castle moat.
The castle is now private property and not open to the public.
At the corner of Hendrik Consciencelaan-Ter Varentstraat you will find the hoeve Domen,(now called Johanneshoeve) dating back to 1845. In 1910 the farm with the ground belonging to it was sold to Alfons Domen.
It is now in use as a community building.
Long ago the city council met at Cantecroy. When belgium became an independent country in 1836 a law was accepted where it said every city had to have its own cityhall. But it took Mortsel to 1871 to buy a house. It was located at the Statielei, and served as cityhall untill 1895.
In 1895 they built a cityhall in neo-flemish renaissance style ready to serve 10.000 inhabitants. It was damaged badly during the second world war and still served as cityhall when Mortsel had 20.000 inhabitants.
At 6 may 1961 the first stone of the present cityhall was layed. It was ready in.
The mainbuilding is 92 meter long and built after a design by Maurice De Vocht. The two flanking buildings are in use by the technical staff and the police.
Inside are many artworks.
The building of this neogothic church began in 1886.
The plan L.Gife made in 1885 , was changed before the work began. Pastor Luyckx, who founded the parish, thought the church was too small.
At 26 juli 1888, the church was inaugurated by Z.E.H.Kennes, dean of Kontich. At 22 september 1902 the church was consecrated by Monseigneur Van der Stappen, bishop of Jaffa.
During the bombing of 5 april 1943 the church was heavily damaged. They were thinking of tearing it down, but decided to restore it.
There are some interesting things to see in the church:
- an altar in white stone (1938) with on it an oak throne of 1890. The holy Mary statue at this throne is by De Boeck en Van Wint.
- A copper 1894 reading stand a gift of Albert Van Hoof.
- The oak organ, by J. Stevens from Duffel in 1907. The angels on top of it date from 1886.
- The neogothic cross wood is made by J.Niesen 1924.
- An oak statue of Holy Mary, with silver crown is made in 1890 by De Boeck and Van Wint.
At the cemetary in Mortsel-Dorp, near the Sint Benedictus church, there is this part of the grave yard reserved for the many victims who died during a befriended bombing by our American allies.
On 5th of April 1943, on 8 minutes time, 936 people died, 209 of them children under age of 15, almost 1600 people were hurt of which approx 600 severly wounded.
The allied dropped the bombs of a considerable height, aiming for a factory that Germans had confiscated to repair their planes. The allied thought they could relie on their measuring instrument, but by the time they were above Antwerp, none of them were still working. Yet they decided to drop their leathal carriage on a densed populated area:
Only a few bombs hit the target, the rest fell on houses, busses, schools.
It was the heaviest and most devastating bombardment out of the Belgian history.
More info on my Oude-God and Mortsel pages
It is not just only places, locations that makes this city a very interesting city.
Although it is not (yet) beautiful from the outside, it is the more beautiful on the inside.
That is what our mayor Ingrid Pira stated in her New Year's speech early 2003.
Mortsel is rich because of the cultural life, the social life, because of the people.
Mortsel is a warm city if you take time to discover it.
When Irina died by an accident on the road in Mortsel (see my danger tip), the people of Mortsel, the bicycler bond, all sympathized with the family.
We gathered together a week after this tragical event and walked all together towards the location where Irina died under the wheels of a heavy van, when she lost balance on her bicycle.
This is what I, of all the must see tips, wanted to share with you... the solidarity of the Mortsel people.
A few translated lines of the mayor's open letter to the Minister:
After this accident, Mortsel has no more tears left….
Your roads, dear Minister, might once have been a gift, but since a few decennia ago, they turned into a torture:
Accidents and near accidents, every day, wounded and almost wounded, dead or near to deads.
Your roads makes that fear can rule here, Minister, and leaves us endulged in incompetance. And that incompetence was named again last week: Irina.
Irina. At the spot where she died, flowers are growing now.
You should drop by and have a look at it, dear Minister, they are growing through the pavement.
They embrace the family, heart broken with grief.
They are telling the passer-by’s about all the previous Irina’s.
They are a silent monument but also a harsh accusation. Because your roads, dear Minister, they are no good.
And this time it was not because of bad driving behaviour. This accident only refers to the road and the traffic on it. (ref. towards the heavy traffic that should not pass through the city)
Inside the church of the Holy Cross, you will also find this statue of the Holy Mary.
Made in 1888 by De Boeck and Van Vliet and copied from the statue of van Heppeneert at Maaseik.