Discover Antwerp underground

The open sewers that crossed the major axes of Antwerp in the middle ages have been covered by Napoleon. The city of Antwerp now makes it possible to visit these underground sewers and see the city from a different angle.

Look at the city map of Antwerp, Belgium, and notice the streets whose name ends in -rui or vliet. These are middle ages water bodies and open sewer streams.

Napoleon started a project that accelerated the covering of these waterways, but it took till the 19th century for most sewers to be covered.

The covered sewer streams under the city of Antwerp

The tour takes you from the city center to the northern part of the old town. A tablet-based guide explains at most crossings the history of that location and helps the visitors to orient where they are in the city. We visited at the end of October.

Before accessing the ruien, visitors get a pair of boots and an overall, ensuring you get out as clean as you entered.

Lights in the ruien under antwerp

The access to the underground tours starts at the Suikerrui, a few minutes’ walk from the Antwerp city hall or the cathedral.

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