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

Citadel of Dinant

The Citadel of Dinant (Citadelle de Dinant) was built in 1815 on a site which was originally fortified in 1051 when the region was ruled by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The citadel overlooks the city of Dinant and the strategic Meuse river which runs through the town. It is open to the public. Together with Huy, Liège and Namur, the Citadel of Dinant forms part of the so-called Meuse Citadels.
Founded: 1815 | Location: Dinant, 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

Annevoie Castle

Annevoie Castle (Château d"Annevoie) is a château in the village of Annevoie-Rouillon located in Wallonia in the municipality of Anhée. It was built in the 18th century by the Montpellier family, and is principally known for the extensive water gardens that surround it, the Jardins d"Annevoie, the only ones of their kind in Belgium. The design is basically French, but contains numerous English and Italian e ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Anhée, 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 van ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Meise, Belgium

Havré Castle

Havré Castle is a ruined water castle in the village of Havré in the town of Mons. The origins of the castle can be only traced back to the year 1226, even the counts of Flanders and Hainaut have had control over Havré since the 11th century. In 1255 Ida of Mons was married to Engelbert d"Enghien. Their descendants keep Havré Castle to the year 1423. Then Gérard d"Enghien passes the Castle on to Christophe ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Mons, 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

Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne

The Castle of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne is located in Wallonia near Rochefort. In 1244 Jacques de Wellin de la Vaux built a simple tower in order to monitor the Bavay-Nassogne Roman road at the request of Andage Abbey (now Saint-Hubert). In 1450, Jean II de Berlo commissioned the building of the current castle, initially with three great towers connected by curtain walls. The fourth tower is built in 1500. In 1630 the castle wa ...
Founded: 1450 | Location: Rochefort, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Medieval Walls of Avila

The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.

The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.