Medieval castles 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

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

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

La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle

La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle ruins lie on a rocky outcrop dominating the green valley which is nestled in a loop formed by the river Ourthe and the steep sides of the Deistermountain. The ruins, dating back to the 11th century, look gloomy but impressive, emphasized by the roughly piled slate walls. From the 12th century on the castle took a strategic place in the development and defence of trade and it got to be a haltin ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: La Roche-en-Ardenne, France

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

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

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages. The castle was built in around 1420 as a mea ...
Founded: c. 1420 | Location: Beersel, Belgium

Jehay-Bodegnée Castle

Most of the structure of the current Jehay-Bodegnée Castle dates from the beginning of the 16th century. Of its medieval predecessor there remain only some vaulted basements of the former keep, dating from the 13th century. In the 19th century the castle was extensively renovated and extended by the famous architect Alphonse Balat in a sober Gothic Revival style. The beautifully decorated interior houses a collection of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Amay, Belgium

Ooidonk Castle

Ooidonk Castle is the residence of the current Count t"Kint de Roodenbeke. A fortress was first built on the site of the present castle in 1230, intended to defend the city of Ghent and to fortify the river Leie. This fortress was owned by Nikolaas van Hoendunc, lord of Nevele. After it was destroyed by Louis de Male, count of Flanders, Jean de Fosseux rebuilt and enlarged the fortress from 1381 onwards, adding moat ...
Founded: 1579 | Location: Deinze, Belgium

Ter Leyen Castle

Ter Leyen Castle is surrounded by a moat and a beautiful garden. It was built in the early 15th century as a fortified manor farm. The present appearance is Renaissance style. Today Ter Leyen can be booked for weddings and events. 
Founded: 15th century | Location: Boekhoute, Belgium

Vêves Castle

The Castle of Vêves, close to the village of Celles, is an exceptional heritage site due to the pristine state of preservation of and one of Belgiums the most remarkable examples of late mediaeval military architecture. According to tradition, the site has been occupied by castles since the time of Pippin of Herstal (7th century). In the later Middle Ages, the area fell under control of the Beaufort family, which ov ...
Founded: 1410 | Location: Houyet, Belgium

Schoten Castle

The water-encircled Schoten castle started as a farm in the 13th century. The first record of farm dates from 1232. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was owned by the family Van Brecht from Breda. They began the construction of the present castle in 1548 and in 1611 the building got its present form. The building was acquired in 1950 by the city of Schoten and in 1955 it was converted into a cultural center.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Schoten, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.