When life at home gets boring, we’ll go outside for some cultural exploring
It’s oh so quiet. Soccer shirts, gym outfits, volleyball shorts, hockey sticks, dancing shoes… they are all buried away in our closets. It might occur that you have no idea where to go with your energy. Going for a stroll or a run can get boring real quick. Taking 10 000 steps during a museum visit is also not an option. And yet the streets of Antwerp can still count as an outlet and a source of inspiration during your study break. On all kinds of wheels (train, bus, bike, scooter or skateboard) you can discover the most impressive streets of Antwerp filled with… GRAFFITI!
Back in the days, when you could still travel to the campus, you’ve probably came across one or more street art projects in the city. The graffiti artworks between Berchem Station and Antwerp Central Station are a good example. Do Smates and Steve Locatelli sound unfamiliar to you? Then go ahead and use that free ten-ride card from the NMBS for this short but famous graffiti route. Would you rather go outside? Or are you more curious about the more daring and colorful graffiti artworks? Then download the free ‘Street art cities’ app on your smartphone. This app gives you the option to choose a street art route in various cities and provides you with a little description of every artwork on your chosen route. These descriptions are written in English, so make sure to bring your best Erasmus student friend. I went ahead and tested the app to sum up five must-do routes that Antwerp has to offer. No excuses, because there’s a perfect street art match for everyone!
ROUTE ‘SMALL’: HET EILANDJE
Busy with studying, deadlines or work? The Eilandje is the perfect spot to go get some quick fresh air during your break. This route is 4.2 km long and has 13 different artworks to offer. Enjoy a nice breeze and the soothing sound of the Schelde while you’re at it. If you go between 4 and 5 pm, you might just catch a glimpse of a beautiful sunset as well. Are you in a hurry or do you want to go a little faster? Then borrow an electric scooter from Bird. Experience this route with an open mouth, but hopefully not with your face on the ground!
ROUTE ‘MEDIUM’: BORGERHOUT EN LUCHTBAL
Start your study break at the Central Station or the Stadspark with a route that will take you to spot some local hidden gems. Grab your bike and cycle to Borgerhout. Afraid your bike might get stolen? Just have it engraved for free with a non-removable label from Stad Antwerpen! This way you can leave your bike behind without a worry. If you don’t own a bike but are eager to discover Antwerp on wheels this fall/winter? Rent a bike from Levanto (at the Central Station) or Swapfiets and you’re good to go.
Take tram 6 ‘P+R Olympiade – P+R Luchtbal’ or DeLijn bus 610 ‘Antwerpen – Oelegem’ and travel from the city center to Luchtbal in less than 15 minutes. This route counts no less than 21 artworks! Don’t just pay attention to the artworks on the gigantic walls, but also to the telephone and electrical cabinets on the corners of the streets. And make sure to take a trip through the graffiti wall beneath the train station. If you ever want to give grafitti a go yourself, you can indulge yourself here – legally!
ROUTE ‘LARGE’: MERKSEM EN BERCHEM
Merksem has quite a lot to offer as well. The most beautiful messages can be discovered in the artworks. The Vertigo Graffiti crew, a group of Colombian artists, used 150 square meters to start conversations across generations. Nowadays, this seems more important than ever. Besides this treasure there are lots of other graffiti artworks to be seen about people and society. For this slightly longer route, a rental bike such as the Velo, the well-known city bike, is a suitable alternative – in case you’re accompanied by whining people who don’t like long walks.
In for a longer walk or ride, then I would recommend Berchem to you. Did you know Berchem has an alderman for Graffiti? How cool is that?! This district is clearly brimming with street art. Joachim Lambrechts, a promising street artist from Berchem, shows you an unseen version of the famous Mona Lisa – this time without a moustache. This route will also take you to one of the longest graffiti walls in Europe: Meeting of Styles. Every year, this wall gets a makeover, so make sure to come again next year!