En route to the South Pole


When modern day technologies meet the archives of the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), the results is a mythical voyage to Antarctica on board the Belgica.

On 16 August 1897, the first Belgian research ship "La Belgica" left Antwerp for the South Pole, then an unexplored area. At the head of the crew was Adrien de Gerlache.

The South Pole had not yet been mapped and no one expected a young 31-year-old Belgian officer to find the funds to transform an old whaling ship into a research vessel with a crew of scientists and navigators from Belgium, the United States, Norway, Poland and Romania.

The daughter of Commander de Gerlache donated the maps and handwritten notes that accompanied them to the KBR, which allows us to experience the daily life of this exploration across the Atlantic Ocean, their arrival in Rio de Janeiro under driving rain, Montevideo, Tierra del Fuego... and then the unknown. Passing through the Strait of Magellan marked the real start of the adventure in this place where many other sailors had failed.

This story mapping literally immerses us in the daily life of the crew. It recounts the human and scientific adventure of an expedition which helped to spread the influence of Belgium around the world.

There were no drones or social media, but there were written texts that 125 years later allow us to relive this magnificent expedition. Wherever you are in the world, come aboard the Belgica and discover the South Pole in the footsteps of the first Belgian explorers.