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 van ...
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 oversaw ...
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

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Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.