This week is Techorama, a developer conference in Antwerp. I’m here helping out at the booth, but because of travel requirements, making sure I was here on time, etc, I arrived in Antwerp the day before. Time to be a tourist, especially as I couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm. One of the sights I had decided last week to see for myself was the pedestrian tunnel, Sint-Annatunnel (Saint Anna’s Tunnel), that goes underneath the River Scheldt from one bank to the other.
It is pretty amazing, to be brief. It was constructed in 1931/32, and restored recently to its original design. And that includes the wonderful wooden escalators and elevators. You feel as if you were transported back in time.
The escalators have rules, too. Love the instructions on how to transport your bike up/down the escalator (in case you don’t want to wait for the lift).
The tunnel is flat and straight as an arrow. No dips or curves. It’s 572m long (1877 feet, or just over 1/3 mile) and is open to walkers or cyclists – or as I saw a couple of times, skateboarders. You can spot the local cyclists since they cycle at more than the 5kph speed limit, tsk tsk.
The left bank (the right bank is where the Cathedral and Grote Markt are) has a lovely little park called Simons Park, with tranquil views over to the Cathedral. (Note: the tiled diagram above names the banks Linker Oever and Rechter Oever, which translate as Left Shore and Right Shore.)
The park contains a statue, almost hidden in a small grove of trees, to King Baudouin, the beloved king of Belgium who died in 1993. He was the king during the time we lived in Brussels, when I was a kid.
Next to that is a kind of open air museum of maritime artifacts (buoys, anchors, etc), including a very bizarre wooden statue of a golem looking over to the other bank. Peculiar, to say the least.
Getting back? You have the choice of a lazy free trip on a ferry, or – drum roll – you can walk back through the tunnel. I of course chose the latter. Well, I did have to get my daily walk in.