ANTWERP | Murals to return to Voetgangerstunnel

The Roads and Traffic Agency (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer) will restore the original frescoes in the St. Anne’s Pedestrian Tunnel or Sint-Annavoetgangerstunnel this year. Antwerp resident Karel Gilleir (74) has been striving for the restoration since 2013. 

Until the 1990s, paintings adorned the walls of the Sint-Annatunnel. A stylized Neptune, flanked by two black horses, told passersby that they were halfway. Opposite was a painting of two mermaids, seahorses and a dolphin. The walls at the height of the elevators were decorated on both sides with painted advertisements for the houses and building plots of Imalso.

Rainbow-lit St. Anne’s Tunnel.

In Gazet van Antwerpen, Karel Gilleir recounts his youth. “I grew up in the city, but we often went to Linkeroever for outings. Then we ran as fast as possible to the Neptune that indicates that you are in the half.”

The idea was first launched in 2013, but nothing happened. Gilleir contacted several local administrators over the years, but nothing came to fruition. But one last attempt, an email to the Roads and Traffic Agency, was successful. 


The Agency confirms the news to Gazet van Antwerpen. 

“They match the heritage character of the tunnel”, says spokesperson Stefanie Nagels. “The Heritage Department had also asked us to go as far back in time as possible. In addition to the images we have, we also received reports from four or five people about the frescoes from that time. We are delighted that they will grace the walls again later this year. There are six paintings in total: the Neptune and the mermaids halfway through the tunnel and another four Imalso advertising paintings on both sides of the elevators.”

Since 1933

Karel Gilleir remembers that under the oldest version of the Neptune was the text: “Here thou art halfway”. 

Nagels says that painting was probably already there at the opening in 1933. “Later, probably in the 1960s or 1970s, the image and text were modernized: Here you are halfway, it said then. We are still looking for photos of that oldest version. 

The frescoes were destroyed in the 1990s when the walls were sandblasted and given new occupation.

The exact timing is not yet known, but the hope is that the paintings will be on the walls by the middle of this year.

On the look of Antwerp

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