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 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lednice Castle

The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.

At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.

During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.

In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.

In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.

The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.