Antwerp area on 5-10-2016 :
When you have a full day in the Antwerp area and there is a cruiseship scheduled to arrive you might want to make sure you have seen as much as possible so when I ended up in Antwerp in the morning with another meeting planned in the late afternoon I made the most of it by starting my visit at Fort Liefkenshoek, this fort was built in 1579 and has been modernised over time, today it is a museum and restaurant. From just accross the street at Liefkenshoek you have a great view on the river Schelde with the cooling towers of the Doel nuclear powerplant in the background, today I saw the cruiseship Hamburg coming into port at this place. When the ship was passed I drove to the small village of Doel, this place has become surreal as 99% of the houses and other buildings have been abandoned because the government evicted all inhabitants for the construction of a new dock on the site of the village, however the political mill runs slow and in the wrong direction causing this village to be abandoned for years and still nothing is happening, a must see for any urban exploration photographer. By now it was time for lunch so I parked my car at Linkeroever close to the entrance of the Sint-Annatunnel, this is a tunnel under the river for people to cross on foot or by bike, on the other side you arrive directly in the center of Antwerp. I went to a place at the Grote Markt for some typical Belgian fries and walked around the area and the riverbank up to the MAS museum, passing some historic ships and the castle "Het Steen" along the way. I went back to the other side of the river to pick up my car and drive to the port area.Before the 1960's there were a lot of small villages around the Antwerp area but as the port was growing in the economic sense there was a need for expansion so some villages were claimed by the government and demolished to create new docks and industrial sites, in those days there was no such thing as GPS so in some cases the church towers were kept because the military maps showed the exact locations of the towers and the engineers could rely on these maps to accurately pinpoint their markers for the construction workers by measuring angles and distance from these towers. Because of this practice there are still a few old village church towers left, one of them is the one I visited, it is called the Sint-Laurentiuskerk and it used to be the church of the village called Wilmarsdonk, this village was demolished in 1966 and the tower is the only thing that is left, making it a surreal beacon of the past in between the containers and hangars of the industrial port of Antwerp. My last stop of the day was in Lillo Fort, this used to be a military fort built in 1578 just opposite of the Liefkenshoek fort in order to defend the port from naval intruders. From the military status of the fort not much remains but you can still see the typical shape of the forts outer walls, inside the earth walls of the fort a village has been built in 1903 complete with a small marina, the village is a small oasis of peace and rest in the middle of the port of Antwerp. By now it was time for me to go to my meeting and then back home.