Below the city the secrets flow
The sewers, otherwise known as De Ruien, are a shadow of the rich history above ground. Sewers, streams and fortifications have crisscrossed Antwerp ever since the Middle Ages. This network of both natural and man-made waterways provided the city with water and an internal harbour.
When the sewers were turned into covered drains this unique piece of heritage disappeared both from view and from our memories.
You can now rediscover this hidden patrimony. The subterranean network of passages still gives us an idea of its rich and exciting past. A visit to De Ruien, with its old vaults, canals, bridges, sewers and drains reflects the historic city centre above you, with plenty of interesting facts and curious anecdotes from a distant and more recent past. We take you on a strange walk deep in the belly of Antwerp!
The City of Antwerp has entrusted the exploitation of the Ruien to WerkmMaat vzw (www.werkmmaat.be), a social employment project and Zanzibar bvba (www.znz.be), an Antwerp eventmarketing agency.
Both partners created a new elan, with investments in service, infrastructure and experience.
Immerse yourself in a piece of Antwerp’s subterranean history
A professional guide will take you to the darkest corners of the underground water system. After a short boat trip the walk continues in the semi-darkness along covered streams, fortifications and drains. The vaults from the Middle Ages reveal their secrets at each step.
Be amazed by the secrets of De Ruien
Get going and be guided by the facts and fables revealed by your tablet at each stop. Discover the rich history of this riverside city and meet its underground inhabitants.
The tours start at 11h/13h/15h.
Take in the ambiance in
a small piece of
Disappear deep into the belly of the city and take in the ambiance in a small part of De Ruien. Climb aboard the little boat and don’t be shy to sail into the past. Take a peek at the dark side of Antwerp’s glorious history with your own eyes.
Reservations and tickets online
For guided group walks and interactive walk with a tablet.
For groups of more than 15 people, please call us on +32 (0)3 344 07 55.
Tickets at the ticket office
For the interactive walk with a tablet and discovery tour by boat.
To assure your place for the interactive walk, book online. There are only 15 spots available for every walk.
De Ruien can be reached on foot, by bike (bike station at Steenplein), by public transport: tram 3, 4, 5, 9, 15 and bus N2, N32, 22, 180, 181, 182, 183 (get off at Groenplaats)
By car: parking Zuiderterras or Car Park at the Grote Markt – E. Van Dijckkaai 3, Antwerp
Beware: The Ruien are part of a low emission zone. Since 2017/02/01 all cars need to fulfil the conditions for admission to enter the city.
For more information go to : www.slimnaarantwerpen.be
Go back in time with this interactive timeline
Growth of the city
through the centuries
Epidemic in Antwerp:
‘The Rapid Disease’
Former Dominican monastic church and abbey
now St Paulus church and surroundings
currently Plantin Moretuslei
Koolvliet, just before its attenuation
4 lock operators in action
Visit to De Ruien
work on the collectors in De Ruien – Scheldekaaien
drainage works De Ruien – chapel