Steen Castle, locally known as Het Steen, which translates to 'The Stone', lies on the east bank of the Scheldt river in the city center of Antwerp, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium.
The castle got its name from the fact that it was one of the earliest buildings in Antwerp constructed with stones at a time when most houses were still built with wood.
The first building at this site dates back to 645. Also in 836 another fortification at this site was destroyed by Vikings. But those fortifications were probably nothing more than wooden fences.
The castle we see today was built around 1200-1225 as residence of a castle lord. In those times it was part of a much larger fortification.
In 1520, during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Steen castle was renovated by the architects Keldermans and De Waghemakere. For their renovations they used a much lighter sort of stone, namely sandstone instead of Doornik limestone. This is the reason of the color difference of the present walls.
In 1549 the castle was turned into a prison; a use which it would keep until 1823. During the 18th and 19th century several restorations took place. In 1824 the castle was bought by the Antwerp city counsel.
Steen Castle now houses the National Maritime Museum, since 1952.
This is a very nice castle. But don't forget to explore the city itself with lots of other beautiful buildings, friendly people and great food and drinks.