Renovations of Het Steen should allow the new cruise terminal for Antwerp in Belgium to open in 2021.
Gazet van Antwerpen reports the multi-year budget foresees a 2021 opening. Het Steen or Stone Castle will also be a tourists’ welcome center and ‘experience center’.
There will be an information desk, e city shop, room for exhibitions and an ‘experience tour’ on the rooftop terrace. This will all be on the first floor (second floor in American English).
The ground floor (first floor US) will be the cruise terminal.
The current cruise terminal must disappear as a result of fortification works of the Scheldekaaien (Scheldt Quays). The enemy? Water.
Het Steen is a medieval fortress. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp. Het Steen is Antwerp’s oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King of Spain, Duke of Brabant.
The rebuilding led to its being known first as ‘s Heeren Steen (the King’s stone castle), and later simply as Het Steen (the stone castle).
The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827.
The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here is also a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in World War II.
Sources: Gazet van Antwerpen, Wikipedia, Cruiseshipsinantwerp.be