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Het Steen are the remains of a castle which was once the center of the city Antwerp, the city developed as time went by further outside the walls of this castle. We find the first traces of this building in the written history in 645 when it is mentioned in The Life Of H-Eligius. From other documents we learn that the Vikings destroyed the castle in 836. After that a wooden fence was build which was replaced around 1200-1225 by a stone wall. Inside these walls there were many more buildings than Het Steen as we know it now (what we see now are parts of the dwelling of the castle lord). The St Wallburgis church, the so called House of Giants a refugee house the Abbey of Affligem and of course also the houses of the inhabitants. Het Steen got restored in 1520 by Emperor Carl V. you still can see his escutcheon and his saying above the main entrance gate of the current museum.
Het Steen served for many purposes throughout the centuries. It was once even a jail but that dark era ended in 1823. The city of Antwerp bought Het Steen in 1842. In 1864 it opened its doors again as a museum of local history and archeology. Now it is the National Maritime Museum. Open everyday except for Monday.