This walk follows in the footsteps of the emperor’s triumphal entries in the city. No surprise, then, that it encompasses the beautiful remnants of Antwerp’s Golden Age. The walk starts in the city’s central park – called Stadspark – and takes you through the Imperial Gate (Keizerspoort). You will also discover the Blue Tower and Herentalse Vaart as you continue your walk to the Royal Palace and the Episcopal Palace. Your destination is Grote Markt and its majestic town hall. But did you know that this town hall had a predecessor?
Antwerp’s Central Park is built on the remnants of the Fortress of Herentals: one of Napoleon’s plans for strengthening the city walls.
The Bastion of Keizerspoort is part of the Spanish ramparts. After its excavation in 2003, it was preserved in the car park under the National Bank, where the public can visit it for free.
Keizerspoort Gate was one of the five gateways into the city during the period of the Spanish ramparts. In 2002, the foundation of the gate was excavated.
An archaeological survey revealed two pits containing 37 skeletons under the playground of the former Mère-Jeanne school.
The Blue Tower was built in the fourteenth century as part of the third city wall. The floor plan of this tower was incorporated in the newly-built Blauwtorenplein.
Napoleon acquired the palace in 1811, intending to use it as an imperial residence. He would never stay there however. King Albert I resided in the palace during World War I.
The palace served as the bishop’s residence until the French transformed it into a hotel for government officials. Napoleon spent the night there on several occasions.
The town hall was the city’s administrative centre. However, it also played a role in conflicts in the past, including during the Spanish Fury.