When I was planning my recent trip to Belgium, I was trying to determine if I was going to go to Antwerp or not. When I was a teenager I went there and did not enjoy my time there at all. However, as I was planning my trip, I came across something that basically gave me no choice but to return so I had to hope for the best and made the most of it.
Every trip to Antwerp should include the train station and for us it started and ended there since we took a train here. I am sure you will agree that this is one of the prettiest ones you have ever seen anywhere. The iron and glass work are a thing of beauty.
Street art hunting in Antwerp is quite easy to do because there is an app that you can download onto your phone. You won’t find any of them on the main streets, but you can see many of them just off them. If you want to see the layout prior to going, click here.
As you walk down Meir, the main shopping street, you can see this mural by Larsen Bervoets on the side of a school. Turn around to see his other work, of a little girl playing with her wings. Both were done back in 2013 to assist in solving a huge tagging problem that was occurring in this area, the Meir, but if you look at the bottom of both you will see they are tagged.
Just a couple of minutes away onto another side street, Gramayestraat, on the right is this Baroque mural created by El Mac called Mural for my Father done in 2018. Again, you can see this from the main shopping street.
You might be wondering why there are several Baroque murals around Antwerp. Peter Paul Rubens lived here, you can check out his house, and in 2018 there were murals created as part of the celebration regarding the opening of the Rubens Experience Center and re-opening of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
As you continue down Meir, look to the right down Eiermarkt and you will see another Baroque mural.
We continued northwards and meandered our way through the streets to the next mural. Along the way we came across Grote Markt.
One of my favorite things as we wandered around Antwerp is that there are so many buildings covered in greenery. It really makes it welcoming and warm. You don’t feel like you are in the middle of a city. It feels more like you are somewhere in the countryside.
We finally made our way to the mural, which happened to be another one by local artist Larsen Bervoets called Whale or Giant? He was inspired by a story about a large whale bone that was found during the Middle Ages. During this time, the people were not aware of the existence of whales.
Only a couple minute walk south, is this mural by Gun-T of 3 birds. This one wasn’t on the map when I was there, we just fell upon it. We did stop by Gun-T’s mural on the map at Nathan’s (also of 3 birds) but they were open, and the doors were pulled up, so I was unable to capture it.
Heading further south, we went to the mural at Moriaanstraatje 1, as we dodged the rain.
We then wandered down to Korte Nieuwstraat 33, for this mostly black and white mural. Be careful when taking a picture of this one. It is located in front of a very busy bus stop.
Even further south, we came across this amazing street, Kopstraatje, filled with street art.
Heading south towards the water, in a little open square is this mural. This is a residential area and there are a couple of murals and you can tell there were a couple that used to exist on the walls here. This particular one is a collaboration by Linskone, Flash and Gun T. Take notice, this square has a lot of meaning because this is where a lot of local artists got their start.
Keep heading south, still in the residential area, and you will come across A Squid Called Sebastian, by Linksone, and Flash at Prekersstraat 16. What is Habbekrats you ask? It is the local youth center and their goal is to make a hero out of every kid. How cool is that? Every town needs a place like this!
Another baroque mural this one created by Yvon Tordoir from Antwerp and French artist Astro is only about a block away (Prekersstraat 27). The calligraphy portion comes from Tordoir while the chiaroscuro, the light and shadow optical illusion (think of Italian painter Caravaggio) is the brain child of Astro.
To be honest, prior to coming to Antwerp, I was not going to seek this one out, but I am so happy I got to see it. It is extremely impressive in person!
On the side of a building a mere minute or so away is Nero, at Kloosterstraat 149-157, setting sail for the North Pole. If I turn myself into a cartoon character, I wonder if I can go along for the ride?
So, the main reason I decided to come to Antwerp in the first place was to see this mural which is located on Leuvenstraat 16-30 created by Keith Haring in 1987. While this is technically not street art, it is an amazing mural that is being protected by this museum that we will be able to enjoy for a long time to come.
To see it, you can simply go to the café located on the 4th floor. Amazing to me, you don’t need to pay the entrance fee for the museum. Just hop on the elevator inside the MHKA museum next to the reception and enjoy!
If it is a nice day, and you have time, spend some time on their lovely outdoor terrace just off the café.
After getting a snack (and hot tea) at the MHKA café, we started heading back to the train station. Along the way we passed the Toneelhuis, an ornate theater.
The shopping stores along Meir are so elaborate, even Nike!
There are so many other street art murals and sites to check out around Antwerp. Between the rain and the limited time, this was what I was able to fit in a couple of hours. You can decide if you want to come to town and:
- Wing it,
- Plan ahead and see the ones you absolutely must see and then if you wander across additional ones, BONUS or
- As you wander around town, have the app open on your phone and see the ones near the sights you are seeing in town.
No matter what you decide to do, you will see great murals around Antwerp.
I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.