Antwerp Ruien is just the thing for those times when you want to look at things from a new angle. This tour lets you visit the underground city of Antwerp.
Maybe you just arrived … or maybe you have been here already a few days and you are starting find your way around and appreciate the city’s atmosphere.
Either way, anytime is good to visit the underground city of Antwerp.
Yes, you can visit the Antwerp Ruien, the 1000 year old ditches, canals and hidden bridges under the houses and streets of Antwerp.You will loose your orientation and be amazed by the hidden web of dark streets under the city.
Your Tour Guide will explain everything starting from the early beginnings in the 11th century until the 19th century. There are also three tunnel exhibitions about the history of the ruien.
The whole area between the Scheldt and the leien is now the Old Town.
This part of town is the second layer of the city; the first, which
cannot be seen anymore, is underground.
But this was not always so.
The stink became unbearable for a crowded and expanding city of Antwerp and the local government decided it would be best to cover them. Since this was a costly endeavor the government passed the responsibility to the citizens.
Each was responsible for covering their part of the canal. The progress was rather slow and it took 300 years before everything was covered.
During the walk you see the craftsmanship of some of those citizens. Some used sandstone, others bricks.
The Jesuits covered the part under their church with expensive stones – and there is still an access to the Saint Carolus- Borromeus Church.
The Protestants were not as wealthy so they only marked their part buy cake like layers of white and red brick.
did not bother with decorating ceilings you can only see from inside
the sever system. One citizen had done a particularly bad job and in 1923
the roof collapsed under a tram. There were no casualties but a lot of
people were seriously injured. The city installed several fortifying
cement beams to prevent it from happening again.
. By then, European laws forced the cities to reorganize their sewer systems. New pipes were installed and the ditches were emptied. What left was a labyrinth of underground streets.
In 2004 the government decided to open them to the public.
not a very easy walk and you are way off the beaten track. If you are
not very fond of insects and spiders you might want to skip this
The adventure will start with a short underground
boat ride. The next 2 hours will be a bit smelly, dark and damp. You
walk in some questionable slimy mud - only up to your ankles (in good
weather). The guide is in constant contact with their operating center.
In case of heavy rain the water might raise 20 – 30 centimeters and you
will be making a quick exit.
There is no danger to your
health - but prepare yourself for an arduous, muddy walk. You will get
long rubber boots, pants, jacket and a flashlight. You get to keep the
cool pants and jacket ☺
The whole experience is like from and
adventure or war movie and you can’t help but imagine exciting
scenarios. A very Sci-fi experience for me.
The Ruien walk with guide takes approximately 3 hours. 2 hours underground and then a walk back above the ground.
Return from Antwerp Ruien to Antwerpens Districts