Castles and fortifications in Belgium

Gravensteen

The Gravensteen is a castle in Ghent originating from the Middle Ages. The name means 'castle of the counts' in Dutch. Arnulf I (918–965), Count of Flanders, was the first to fortify this place, building a medieval bastion on this high sand dune, naturally protected by the river Leie and its marshy banks. This bastion consisted of a central wooden building and several surrounding buildings, also in wood. ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Ghent, Belgium

Het Steen

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 ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Halle Gate

The Halle Gate is a medieval fortified city gate of the second walls of Brussels. It is now a museum, part of the Royal Museums for Art and History. Built in 1381, the gate was named for the city of Halle in Flemish Brabant which it faces. The original gate included a portcullis and drawbridge over a moat. The structures that housed these are still visible. While the other six gateways and the defensive walls were demoli ...
Founded: 1381 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Geeraard de Duivelsteen

Geeraard de Duivelsteen is a Gothic building in Ghent, Belgium. It served as defense of the Portus Ganda, the city's port. The building was built in the 13th century and was named after the knight Geeraard Vilain (1210-1270), second son of the fifteenth viscount of Gent, Zeger III of Ghent. Vilain's nickname was Geeraard de Duivel ('Geerard the Devil'), which was based on his dark complexion and hair color. In the 14th c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ghent, Belgium

Groot-Bijgaarden Castle

Groot-Bijgaarden Castle is 12th-century castle in Groot-Bijgaarden in the municipality of Dilbeek, Flemish Brabant, Belgium. The castle was built for Almaric Bigard, the first lord of Bigard. The castle is surrounded by a wide moat spanned by a bridge with five arches, leading to the drawbridge. The central part of the gatehouse dates from the 14th century. A four-storey tower (built 1347), 30 metres high, is by the side ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dilbeek, Belgium

Bouillon Castle

Bouillon Castle was mentioned first in 988, but there has been a castle on the same site for a much longer time. The castle is situated on a rocky spur of land within a sharp bend of the Semois River. In 1082, Bouillon Castle was inherited by Godfrey of Bouillon, who sold it to Otbert, Bishop of Liège in order to finance the First Crusade. The castle was later fitted for heavy artillery by Vauban, Louis XIV's mi ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Bouillon, Belgium

Durbuy Castle

In medieval times Durbuy was an important centre of commerce and industry. In 1331, the town was elevated to the rank of city by John I, Count of Luxemburg, and King of Bohemia. At the heart of Durbuy is this fairly modest riverside castle that dates from 1756, the medieval original having been destroyed under Louis XIV of France.
Founded: 1756 | Location: Durbuy, Belgium

Castle of the Dukes of Brabant

Het Kasteel van de hertogen van Brabant (The Castle of the Dukes of Brabant) dates from the 12th century, and has been repeatedly rebuilt. In the 18th and 19th century the castle fell into disrepair. The county bought the building around the turn of the 20th century and made a restoration after the First World War.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Turnhout, Belgium

Gaasbeek Castle

Gaasbeek Castle, today a national museum, was erected around 1240 to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the County of Flanders. The castle was destroyed however by Brussels city troops in revenge for the assassination of Everard t'Serclaes, which was commanded by the Lord of Gaasbeek. At the beginning of the 16th century the Horne family constructed a brick castle on the ruins of the medieval fortress. In 1565 Lamoral, ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Lennik, Belgium

Bouchout Castle

Bouchout Castle is located in the Flemish town of Meise. In the 12th century, this territory of the young Duchy of Brabant was strategically positioned between the County of Flanders and the Berthout family, lords of Grimbergen. Most likely, the first fortification was built by Wouter van Craaynem at the end of the Grimbergen Wars (1150–1170). At about 1300, the Donjon tower of Bouchout Castle was erected by Daniel ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Meise, Belgium

Broel Towers

The Broel Towers are known as one of the most important symbols of Kortrijk city. Although they look identical, the towers were not built at the same time. The Southern tower, also known as the Speyetoren, was built in 1385 to control the traffic on the river Lys. This tower was part of the fortified fence of the first medieval castle of the Counts of Flanders. The Speyentoren was also part of the 12th century rampart, de ...
Founded: 1385/1415 | Location: Kortrijk, Belgium

Horst Castle

The area in Sint-Pieters-Rode was in the Middle Ages strategically located near Louvain, which until the mid-14th century was the largest and most important city of the Duchy of Brabant. In the 13th century the Horst family built a farm, which was fortitied as a moated castle in the the late 1300s by knight Pynnock. The castle was destroyed during the uprising of 1488-1489 against Maximilian of Austria. The castle was re ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Sint-Pieters-Rode, Belgium

Alden Biesen Castle

The knights of the Teutonic Order originally founded the Alden Biesen commandery in the 11th century, but the current buildings were constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was the headquarters of a bailiwick or province of the Teutonic Order in the region of the Maas and Rhine. On 8 March 1971 the building burnt down and was acquired by the government and restored. In addition to the moated castle, the comple ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Rijkhoven, Belgium

Opheylissem Castle

Opheylissem Castle is a large stately home in Hélécine, Belgium. The present building represents the remains of the former Premonstratensian Opheylissem Abbey, which was dissolved in 1796. Most of the buildings were destroyed, but the abbot"s house (prelatuur) remained, and in 1870 was restructured by the architect Alphonse Balat in its present form. Balat laid out the surrounding park at the same time. The ho ...
Founded: 1870 | Location: Hélécine, Belgium

Arenberg Castle

The Arenberg site had been the castle of the lords of Heverlee since the 12th century, but this family became impoverished and had to sell the site in 1445 to the Croÿ family from Picardy. Antoon van Croy demolished the medieval castle and started works to build the current château in 1455 on the site, of which he destroyed all but one tower. Willem van Croÿ completed the works on the château in 1515 ...
Founded: 1455 | Location: Leuven, Belgium

Citadel of Namur

The Citadel Namur is a fortress dates originally from the Roman era, but has been rebuilt several times. Its current form was designed by Menno van Coehoorn, and improved upon by Vauban after the siege of 1692. It has been classified as a Wallonia"s Major Heritage site. The original citadel dates to 937. It achieved its present extent between 1631 and 1675, when the city was under Dutch control. This section was cal ...
Founded: 1631-1675 | Location: Namur, Belgium

Fort Napoleon

Fort Napoleon in Ostend is a polygonal fort built in the Napoleonic era. It has recently been restored and is open to the public. France had occupied the Austrian Netherlands (a territory roughly corresponding to the borders of modern Belgium) during 1792 and 1793 in the Flanders Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. During the War of the Fifth Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte expected a British assault from the sea on ...
Founded: 1811 | Location: Ostend, Belgium

De Viron Castle

De Viron Castle was built in 1863 by the Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, commissioned by the de Viron family, which settled in Dilbeek in 1775. The Tudor-style castle was built on the ruins of a 14th-century fortification which was destroyed in 1862. One of the medieval towers, the Sint-Alenatoren, can still be seen in the park surrounding the current building. One of the medieval towers, the Sint-Alenatoren, can still be seen in ...
Founded: 1862 | Location: Dilbeek, Belgium

Man Castle

Man castle is located in the city Hoeilaart. The origin of the castle is a castle of the 15th Century. 1820 transferred the ownership to the Baron Joseph de Man d"Hobruge, mayor of Hoeilaart. His son, Baron Jean de Man d"Attenrode, also mayor of Hoeilaart, let the old castle leave in 1850 and built the present castle. It was designed by the architect Joseph Claes from Antwerp. On 1 December 1919, the city Hoeila ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Hoelaart, Belgium

Franchimont Castle

Franchimont Castle sits at the western end of a small hill overlooking the village of Franchimont. It is thought to have originally been built in the 11th century, as a stronghold of the Principality of Liège. The original building was extended several times during the Middle Ages, once after a fire in 1387. In 1487 the castle was besieged, and around the same period the La Marck family took ownership of it. In the e ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Theux, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

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Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.