Busy times for archeologists

Should you visit Antwerp later this year, you will undoubtedly be confronted with road works and the like, which results in traffic problems every now and then, but don’t forget that every cloud has a silver lining.

Our silver lining is that the road works in the Opera quarter and in the South quarter will teach us a lot about the town’s history, and not only that: parts of the city’s history that have lain hidden for hundreds of years will again become visible. One more reason to come and visit Antwerp.

The Antwerp Opera is built along  a city boulevard that in the sixteenth century was an enormous defensive wall. Recently Rough Guide chose Antwerp as its #5 city to visit in 2017, in the 16th century, an Italian named Guiccardini advised each and every European to visit Antwerp and its defensive wall. The people of Antwerp usually refer to this wall as the Spaanse Vesten (Spanish Walls) as the Netherlands then were part of the reign of Charles V and his son Filip II.

In the 19th century these walls no longer served a defensive role and in stead were a hindrance in the development of the city which was booming thanks to the newly (re)started harbour activities, so the walls were broken down. Fortunately they were only demolished up to ground level: the basements underground were left intact and archeological studies now are revealing these impressive works.

Part of an old bastion in the Spanish Walls laid bare.
This is what the Opera Square will look like when all the works are finished.

Source: Gazet van Antwerpen

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