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THE "LANGE WAPPER'' 

The entrance to the Steen is guarded by the 'Lange Wapper' statue. This statue was made in 1963 by Albert Poels and represents a legendary person called Lange Wapper, the Antwerp version of the boogie man. He terrified children and drunks. The name 'Lange Wapper is now also used for a new fountain in the river Scheldt.

'Steen' is the Dutch word for 'stone'. In Antwerp the 'Steen' is the name of the little castle that can be seen at the entrance of the city center, on the border of the river Scheldt. The castle is called that way because it was one of the earliest buildings in Antwerp constructed with stones (at a time when most houses were still built with wood). The name 'Steen' can be found in other cities too. It always refers to a castle-like fortification (e.g.:  the castle of the counts of Flanders in the city of Gent  is also called 'Graven-steen', or  (stone) Castle of the Counts).

The Antwerp Steen has been renovated numerous times. It was probably built as a part of the fortification around the city in the 13th century. In 1520, during the reign of Charles V, the castle was renovated  by the architects Keldermans and De Waghemakere. The chapel which forms a loggia above the entrance dates from this period. It bears the motto of Charles V  'Plus Outre'. At the entrance a relief statue can be seen of a man with spread out legs. This statue also used to have a very large penis and was therefore venerated by numerous women looking for a cure against infertility. The Jesuits found the statue too obscene in the 17th century.... and off went the decoration of the statue !

The Steen was used as a prison from 1549 until 1823. As from 1862 it was used as the Archeological Museum. It was again renovated in 1889-1890 and a Neo-gothic wing was added to the building. Since 1952 The National Navigation Museum is housed here. Next to the castle are the large storage halls of the 19th century harbor. Here can be seen numerous vessels and boats which belong to the Maritime Museum.


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