Ekeren is a northern district of the municipality of Antwerp in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The suburb celebrated its 850th birthday in 2005; the name of the town was first mentioned in 1155, as "Hecerna". The name possibly originates from Vikings who settled there in the ninth century after using the oak trees.
The Hof van Veltwijck, home of the district council
District of Ekeren within the city of Antwerp
Ekeren used to be the home town of the Germinal Ekeren football team until Germinal merged with K. Beerschot V.A.C. into K.F.C. Germinal Beerschot (in 1999). The new club is based in the Olympisch Stadion in Antwerp.
Ekeren is home to the Jozef Pauly municipal academy for music and diction, which has around 2000 pupils as of 2004 (also counting branches in some other districts of the city of Antwerp, and one in the nearby municipality of Kapellen). The academy hosts many musical ensembles; the Jozef Pauly flute ensemble has made concert tours to Australia and the United States. Municipal music academies in Belgium are distinct from the public educational system; attending these academies is entirely optional, and merely a hobby for most of the students.
The 1 square kilometre large domain of the Oude Landen is a unique and extremely diverse natural sanctuary situated near the border with the Antwerp city district. Since it was a military area until 1972 (but not often used as such) where trespassing was strictly forbidden, nature was allowed to have its way for decades; the area now contains a rich mixture of plants and animals in eight more or less separate miniature ecosystems.
The border between Ekeren and the Antwerp district will be changed per 1 January 2019, transferring several Antwerp neighbourhoods with about 5,000 inhabitants to Ekeren.
In 1703, Ekeren was the site of a battle in the War of the Spanish Succession, known as the Battle of Ekeren. Some street names in Ekeren (for example, the "Successiestraat", "Vierkerkenstraat", and "Tweekronenstraat") still refer to this historical event.
During the Liberation of Belgium, Ekeren was liberated on October 4, 1944 by the Essex Scottish Regiment and the Royal Regiment of Canada. The last V-Bomb to land in the area of Antwerp was in Ekeren, on March 28, 1945.
Ekeren was a distinct municipality with its own town hall, mayor, and city council until 1983, when most of it, along with 8 other municipalities was merged into the city of Antwerp. In 2000 the Antwerp city council initiated additional district councils with responsibilities including sports, culture, youth and elderly people. Since this decentralization, the Antwerp municipality consists of nine districts (the old city, seven former municipalities at its borders, and the Bezali merger of three towns). The first district council of Ekeren, elected in 2000, was led by Christophe Thomas (Open Vld); the second district council, elected in 2006, by Ronny Kruyniers (sp.a). The current district council chairman is Koen Palinckx (N-VA) (elected in 2012). The district council gathers in the 16th century-era Hof van Veltwijck, which had seen major restructuring works around 2000; this complex also houses local administrative offices.