Zurenborg is a hidden treasure and we like to keep it that way. Tourists only find their way to the Cogels Osylei.
Variety and individuality are the key to the buildings constructed in this part of the city.
You want fancy food or a quick bite? Or you want to forget about
time in a brown bar and go home after three AM? You will find an impressive cluster of venues to suit any taste.
This results in an Antwerp architecture area where you can find a Moorish style building next to an Art Nouveau house or an eclectic castle. Nowhere in the world will you find so many confronting styles in one small district.
This whole area of Zurenborg – not only the Cogels-Osy Lei – was on the demolition list in the early 70ies. Those days, Berchem was an independent commune and it was decided that the area didn’t have any architectural or historical value.
“Let’s get rid of this mess” was the opinion of the local mayor.
A protest group was created and local papers reported extensively about the planned demolition. Journalists, architects writers, actors and other creative minds start buying the houses for next to nothing.
As you might have guessed they did a very good deal - Today the houses are worth millions of Euros.
The Cogels Osylei neighborhood is an area full of symbolic buildings - and street names. Cogels-Osy, the man who started the whole development project, was a defender of the Flemish and Antwerp identity.
Some street names refer to the independence war of linguistic affinity. The Boer war in South Africa: the Pretoriastraat, Transvallstraat and Krugerstraat.
Others refer to the Flemish history or to wars against the Dutch and French. Several buildings were given similar symbolic names. These symbols show that the neighborhood represented a newly found patriotism which is also reflected in the exuberance of the architecture.
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