A favorite among tourists is the stroll down the Vlaeykens­gang, a small alley next to the town hall. This small his­toric lane is a throw­back to the late Mid­dle Ages, when many streets were no wider than a door­way. The alley was cre­at­ed in 1591 and was orig­i­nal­ly inhab­it­ed by shoe­mak­ers. The name sup­pos­ed­ly comes from the Flem­ish word “Vlaai”, a local type of pie.

vlaikkensgang street

The entry is from place: Bel­gium

Street history

At the end of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, there were many such lanes in the city cen­ter. Now they may look idyl­lic, but at that time only the poor­est res­i­dents were accom­mo­dat­ed here. Liv­ing con­di­tions were often appalling, with many large fam­i­lies crammed into small spaces. San­i­tary con­di­tions were poor, often with one pump pro­vid­ing water for an entire lane.

Dur­ing the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, many of these lanes were destroyed and rebuilt. By the 1960s, the dilap­i­dat­ed Vlaikkens­gang was also due to be demol­ished, but for­tu­nate­ly a local anti­quary pur­chased the hous­es in the lane and restored the entire com­plex.

Vlaikkensgang today

Today, Vlaeykens­gang is a qui­et retreat from the hec­tic city cen­ter and a pop­u­lar place to lis­ten to the cathe­dral’s car­il­lon con­certs, which are held every Mon­day evening dur­ing the sum­mer. You can also have lunch or din­ner here in an authen­tic his­tor­i­cal atmos­phere.

street in antwerp

One of the entrances to the Vlaikkens­gang is at the Oude Koorn­markt, a for­mer corn mar­ket. Entrance num­ber 16 is no wider than a door­way, so make sure you don’t walk past it.

See also
Padar Island - home of the Komodo Dragons