The arch was built between 211 and 214 by means of a testamentary donation of Gaius Cornelius Egrilianus, Prefect of the XIV legion, who was originally from Thebeste. The figure set aside for the construction was 250,000 sesterti.
Later, the arch was reused as the northern gate of the city wall in the Byzantine period. The lateral arches were walled up, as was the northern one, until they were reopened by French military engineers during the colonial period.
In form it is roughly cubical, being 10.94m on the side and to the top of the entablature. On the pylons, beside the spans are pairs of columns with Corinthian capitals, detached from the wall and with pilasters behind, supported by a podium from which their pedestals extend. The main entablature is above the pairs of columns and continues in the recess above the spans. Medallions with the busts of divinities are located above each of the spans.
On the attic on three sides dedications are inscribed to the deified Emperor Septimius Severus, Julia Domna and Caracalla. On the fourth side is a reconstructed Byzantine inscription, originally found in the infill of the vaults, which refers to the incorporation of the arch into the Byzantine city wall as the work of the magister militum Solomon.
At the centre on all sides, the entablature supported an aedicula which held a statue.
The reconstruction of the very top of the arch is the subject of some debate among scholars: According to Meunier an octagonal lantern would have stood there with its base hidden by the aediculae, while according to another there would have been a low dome. According to Bacchielli, the four aediculae, connected by railings contained the statues of the Deified Septimius Severus, the Deified Julia Domna, Caracalla and Geta.References:
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.