Medieval castles in Belgium

Autelbas Castle

The current Autelbas castle was built in 1432 on the ruins of the old castle from the 13th century (destroyed in 1412 by the Burgundy army). In 1983, Autelbas Castle fell victim to a large fire and burned to the ground. It has been a ruin ever since. The last decade there have been some consolidation campaigns but it is clear that it still needs some considerable restoration works for it to survive.
Founded: 1432 | Location: Arlon, Belgium

Bossenstein Castle

The oldest part of the present Bossenstein Castle is the square keep, probably built before the 14th century by a Joannes van Busco or Van den Bossche. Not much later it went to the Van Berchem family. They are supposed to have made some major alterations to the castle. They sold it in 1544 to Guilelmus van der Rijt, who was a member of the city council of nearby Antwerp. In the deed of sale the castle was described as an ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ranst, Belgium

Cortewalle Castle

Cortewalle Castle dates back to the 15th century, and is one of the oldest in the Waasland. It is built of white sandstone, in Flemish Renaissance style. For centuries it was in the possession successively of the Triest, Goubau and de Brouchoven de Bergeyck families, until the Brouchovens sold it to the municipality of Beveren, who use it for the storage of the extensive and important De Bergeyck archives. Today Cortewal ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Beveren, Belgium

Elst Castle Ruins

Elst castle ruins in Duffel is one of the oldest buildings in the province of Antwerp. The oldest reference dates from the 12th century. At that time castle was owned by the brothers Hildincshusen. From 1356 until the French Revolution in 1789 the castle was owned by the Tongerlo Abbey and was inhabited by the steward. It was also used as a residence for the nobility. In 1584 the castle burned down and was then rebuilt. I ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Duffel, Belgium

Cleydael Castle

Cleydael Castle is a moated castle in Aartselaar originally dating from the 14th century. The four towers are called Fox tower, Chapel tower, Owl tower and Cat tower. The castle was the home of the lords of Cleydael until the end of the 18th century. After being part of the golf course, it is now private property again.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Aartselaar, Belgium

Prinsenkasteel

Prinsenkasteel ('Prince Castle') was founded in the 14th century by the lords of Grimbergen. The current castle buildings were constructed by Filips Frans van Glymes in the late 17th century. Today the ruins are surrounded by a moat.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Grimbergen, Belgium

Kruikenburg Castle

Kruikenburg Castle is a listed building in the village of Ternat. It was the seat of the lordship of Kruikenburg, which included the villages of Ternat, Sint-Katarina-Lombeek and Wambeek. A medieval foundation, the castle was extensively remodelled in the 16th and 18th centuries, giving it its current appearance. In 1662 the lord of Kruikenburg was elevated to the title of count. In the 20th century the castle became a ho ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ternat, Belgium

Castle of the Princes de Mérode

Castle of the Princes de Mérode, also called as 'old castle', has been the home of the House of Merode since more than five centuries. The central keep or Donjon was built in local brown stone in the 14th-century. It probably replaced an older fortress on the same spot. Other parts of the building date from the 16th century. The castle was adapted, extended and restorated several times. From the 16th century onwards it w ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Westerlo, Belgium

Fagnolle Castle Ruins

Fagnolle Castle was formerly the centre of government of the small independent Barony, later County, of Fagnolle. It was constructed in the 12th century, and is now ruined.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Philippeville, Belgium

Montquintin Castle

Montquintin Castle was probably originally designed to defend the southern border of the counts of Chiny. It was built in the 11th century by order of Louis II, Count of Chiny (born 1025). Over the centuries the castle has undergone many changes. The central part was rebuilt the 18th centuryt by the Bishop of Hontheim, last owner. In 1869 a fire destroyed the castle. The basement includes a vaulted cellar, which is ver ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Rouvroy, 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

Montaigle Castle Ruins

Montaigle Castle was built in the 14th century, and destroyed by Henry II of France in 1554. It stands on a rocky spur overlooking the valleys of the Molignée and of the Flavion. The site was used during the Late Roman period for a Belgo-Roman fortification. The ruins are open to visitors, convention spaces are also available.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Onhaye, Belgium

Hauteroche Castle Ruins

Hauteroche ('High Rock') is a ruined 14th-century castle, destroyed after a siege in 1554, in the village of Dourbes in the municipality of Viroinval, province of Namur. It is situated on a ca. 50 meters high, rocky promontory, looking out over the valley of the Viroin river. The isolated site of the castle is separated from the plateau by a large, hand cut ditch. It has a square keep with 2.5 meter thick ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Viroinval, Belgium

Walzin Castle

Walzin Castle is located over the river Lesse near Dinant. Construction began in the 13th century, and the 15th-century Renaissance horseshoe tower with four cannon ports still exists, even though the castle was burned down by the French army in 1554. There were several restorations later, the latest by Baron Fréderic Brugman between 1930 and 1932. Victor Hugo made a drawing of it in 1863.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dinant, Belgium

Freÿr Castle

The castle of Freÿr with its gardens form one of the most magnificent natural sites in Belgium. It has been classified as one of Wallonia"s major heritage sites. Dating back to the Middle Ages, Freÿr was a keep given in fief by the Count of Namur to Jean de Rochefort Orjol in 1378. His granddaughter Marie married Jacques de Beaufort in 1410. Their descendants have kept the estate until the present.  ...
Founded: 1571 | Location: Hastière, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.