Boomerang tours in the ErfgoedApp: a field test

FARO's ErfgoedApp continues to innovate: since the beginning of May 2024, there are the new Boomerang tours. This feature allows users to start a customized heritage walk from any location. Within seconds, the app generates a personalized heritage itinerary full of interesting heritage sites waiting to be explored.

The experience

Starting a tour is very simple: open the app, click on the compass and choose a Boomerang tour. You have the choice of a small, medium, large or extra-large tour. For this test, I chose the large route, resulting in a walk of about 12 kilometers. Walking shoes on, a snack for the road and ... get started!

The walk led me through the greenery of Edegem to the Hof ter Linden. Already a good start: this 18th-century classicist castle and its surrounding grounds are the hang-out spot par excellence for those who love picnics and aperitifs in the sun.

Stop 1: Hof ter Linden Castle

The second point was about two kilometers away, so I had no time to waste. On the map in the ErfgoedApp , I saw from the "pluses" that I would pass a lot of heritage sites that were not officially part of the walk. Nice touch! Ignoring the siren song of the local brewery, I stepped on to the Eagle's Nest, the second castle on this hike. Unfortunately, the castle turned out to be private property, and so all I did was glance at the picturesque gatehouse.

Stop 2: Gatehouse of Eagle's Nest Castle

Here, however, I encountered a minor shortcoming of the tour. Namely, the app sent me back via the same route. Fortunately, I saw a nice path through the green along the Edegem allotments. Walk saved!

Interlude: improvised route through the greenery of the allotments

The next stop was the "Pride" statue at Edegem's historic town hall.

Stop 3: The 'Pride' statue at the Old Town Hall of Edegem

I then passed the busy Hovestraat and the walk continued past Our Lady of Lourdes Basilica and the adjacent Marian grotto. With two castles, a statue and a basilica, the route appeared to take me past a nice variety of fascinating heritage for now.

Stop 4: the Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Marian grotto

The next two locations were again in an arm that I would have to walk up and down. Provided a slight adjustment in the route, I still managed to make it one loop. Again, these were two castles on private property. The first was Kasteel Hoveberg, a family replacement home; the second stop was Kasteel Cappenberg, an elementary school of special education. From a distance I could just catch a glimpse of Kasteel Hoveberg through the fence. At Castle Cappenberg, it stayed at the castle gate. 

Stops 5 and 6: Castle Hoveberg (left) and the gate of Castle Cappenberg (right)

The penultimate stop led me past Mortsel's Municipal Square, where the historic Tram 7 has its terminus. Further into Mortsel, the route took me past the neo-Gothic Heilig Kruiskerk.

Stop 7: Holy Cross Church in Mortsel

Finally, the walk led me to Fort V, a highlight of Antwerp's heritage and one of the many military strongholds of the fortress belt.

Stop 8: Fort V

A little further on, on the wandering light path along the fields and woods of Hof ter Linden, my route ended.

The final route through forest and fields

The verdict

In an hour and a half, the Boomerang tour took me past four castles, two churches, a statue and a historic fortress. A nice range of locations that you would expect to see on any manually curated tour as well. Unfortunately, some of the locations - in this case the castles - turned out to be not always accessible. The generated route did not always make a nice loop and left me returning here and there along the same path. In such cases, I could fall back on the app's built-in map and deviate from the planned path with confidence.

So the Boomerang tour shows a lot of potential. It is clear that the algorithm is capable of recommending top locations. Those who keep their heads and manage to add an occasional impromptu touch to the automatically generated walk will have a particularly wonderful heritage experience!

Want to get started with a Boomerang tour yourself? Then quickly download the ErfgoedApp and venture out on a customized walking tour.