Want to discover the best street art in Antwerp? Well, you came to the right place! Every year, more and more walls are being decorated with extravagant and provocative works of art, both in the city centre and far beyond. Trot Op! went exploring and came back with six beautiful street art walks in Antwerp, Berchem and Borgerhout.
How lucky we are for Antwerp to be so utterly full of ugly walls. It took us blood, sweat and tears, but after years of deliberately screwing up every attempt at urban planning, and by upholding a meticulous policy of urban neglect, we finally managed to get ourselves enough shitty concrete to use as canvasses in our struggle to become one of Belgium’s main street art cities. No fewer than 263 official street artworks can be visited in and around Antwerp, which is the highest number of any city in Flanders. Except for Ghent, but who really cares about them.
Lots of street art to discover indeed, and well spread out too. To spare your delicate and possibly slender legs a bit, I’ll only talk about graffiti in the city centre this time. In my arbitrary opinion, this means central Antwerp and ‘t Eilandje, the part of Borgerhout within the inner ring road and most of the district of Berchem. Everything outside this general area – and believe me: it’s a lot – will be revealed in a future article. Patience is a virtue, is what my dear old granny used to say in my imagination.
Street Art in Antwerp: discover the best graffiti in the city centre
If you’re looking to connect the main artworks, you’re in for a couple of brisk walks. Interesting walks though, as a lot of street art in Antwerp is hidden in residential neighbourhoods you’d normally never go to. To make navigation a little easier, you’ll want to install a couple of apps. Just like in my Leuven article, I firmly recommend the Street Art Cities app. It has all of them on a handy map, and includes the street addresses and a picture to judge whether or not a particular painting is worth the walk. The Antwerp Museum App even offers some mapped out street art city walks for a couple of districts (sadly not all of them have been translated to English). Ideal for when you’re looking for a place to start. Installed both of them? Then let’s get on with it.
1. Meeting of Styles
The first stop is one for all you lazy bastards. If you want to see as much street art in Antwerp as possible without having to walk much, this is the place to be. Meeting of Styles is an annual event taking place near the intersection of Plantin & Moretuslei and Binnensingel. It celebrates street culture in all its facets (except for drug dealing 🙁 ) and a whole army of national and international graffiti artists is invited to paint on a whopping 4.000m2 of walls in Vlijtstraat and Minkelersstraat. The results are quite impressive, and look completely different every year. De Zomerfabriek, lying smack in the middle of it all, is one of Antwerp’s nicer summer bars. Sadly it is now closed due to – you’ll never guess – corona.
2. Street art in Antwerp central
There’s lots of street art to discover in the actual city centre as well. The Antwerp Museum App has a walk called “Kunst kijken in de stad” (not translated yet) which takes you past all the main spots. In the Sint-Andries quarter especially, there are a lot of splendid murals waiting: from the newest work by our only Hollywood actor Matthias Schoenaerts – hood name Zenith – to a colourful ode to the legendary Antwerp hip hop band Sint-Andries MC’s. There’s plenty to see around Theaterplein, Groenplaats and Meir too. The Meir itself used to have a marvellous portrait by Smug on display. Sadly the owner of the building preferred a boring grey wall to an international work of art and had it removed last year. Some people are dicks.
3. Street art on ‘t Eilandje
‘t Eilandje used to be one of the seedier parts of Antwerp, but throughout the last decade it transformed itself into the fanciest quarter in town. Street art found its way in as well. The brick walls of Waagnatie and the Kattendijkdok hangars showcase a couple of truly monumental works, but there are some to be found around the MAS Museum as well. One is a goofy portrait of two local celebs who produce a talk show on a boat in the MAS marina. This way, they can get off looking at their own smug faces while they gently make love against the railing of their yacht. There’s no price on romance.
4. Street art in Berchem
Berchem has always been one of the main hotspots for street art in Antwerp. The Meeting of Styles site is located here, but there’s plenty to discover in the rest of the district as well. They even have an alderman of street art now: the illustrious Kris Gysels (hood name: Krissy G). A good place to start your walk would be the Berchem train station. There’s a couple of absolutely amazing murals on the walls between platform 6 and 7. Afterwards, you can walk to Groenenhoek, where someone painted a giant sperm whale on the side wall of the local pool. You could also head to the De Koninck Brewery instead, where three giant pigeons are posing like they just dropped a sick hiphop track – possibly in collaboration with MC Krissy G. Booyakah!
5. Street art in Borgerhout
According to Filip Dewinter – Flanders’ most celebrated racist – Borgerhout is doing excellent as far as street culture goes. Too bad this didn’t really showcase itself in the form of lots of amazing street art. Weird, because there are plenty of other art and culture programmes active here. Luckily this is an issue of the past. Last year, the Walls of BoHo project added five new murals to the paintings already present, and they are pretty awesome. Joachim painted a massive homage to holocaust victim Mala Zimetbaum on the wall of a service centre, and iOTA! decorated an exceptionally ugly sidewall with a fantastic, dreamy colour spectacle. You can now walk all the way from Dageraadplaats to Krugerplein while discovering new art every couple of hundred meters. Which is of course: very nice.
6. The Antwerp cartoon walls
For our last walk, we’ll head back to the city centre. There, even the smallest among us can go on a child friendly street art discovery tour. On twelve walls in Antwerp (and one in Deurne), you won’t find the usual psychedelic spectacles or half naked women, but some colourful paintings honouring our national comic book heroes instead. You probably won’t know any of them as a non-Belgian, but man, aren’t they all there. The largest concentration of cartoon walls can be found in the university quarter, which is therefor logically the ideal place to start your tour. If you spot me walking around there, you may start kindly waving from a distance.
“Antwerp is packed with splendid street art. 263 works of art can be spotted here, which is more than any other city in Flanders. Except for Ghent, but who really cares about them.”
There, off you go on another adventure: six walks full of street art in Antwerp to enjoy. What’s your personal favourite mural? Which other street art cities would you recommend? Would you like some street art on your own house? Do you hate graffiti and would you prefer these damn kids to be taught the value of other people’s property instead? Let it all out in the comments below!
I made a second article on street art in Antwerp, focused on murals in Deurne, Merksem and Luchtbal. You can read it here.
Want to discover eight completely unknown spots in Antwerp? Click here and here. Want to find out where in Antwerp you probably won’t get corona? Click here. Up for some good food? Read my articles on the best Asian, Middle-Eastern, vegan, Italian or burger restaurants in Antwerp. Want to get out of Antwerp for a while? Read my posts on Gaume, Spa, Koksijde, Charleroi, Liège or The Zwin.
*Murals shown above*
Meeting of Styles: Wolf in sheep’s clothing by A Squid Called Sebastian, bottom: various artists
Berchem: Mural in the Berchem train station by Cazn, Will to Fly by Smok, Moby Dick by Rise One