Medieval castles in Belgium

Gruitrode Castle

Gruitrode Castle was built on the site of earlier castle between 1485-1568. The earlier buildings were destroyed in 1485 in a conflict between Marck and Arenberg families. The remains of older castle are today in the courtyard of the current castle. Until the Napoleonic era it remained in the possession of the Knights of the German Order, who continually expanded the property.
Founded: 1485 | Location: Meeuwen-Gruitrode, Belgium

Leefdaal Castle

Leefdaal castle was mentioned first in the 12th century, but the present appearance dates from the late Middle Ages and 17th century. The castle is not open to the public.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bertem, Belgium

Heers Castle

Heers Castle built in the 13th century. Of its many owners, among the most notorious was Raes van Heers (1418–77), who was defeated and driven into exile by Charles the Bold at the Battle of Brustem in 1467. The castle, and the town of Heers, were laid waste by Charles"s troops, although the castle was eventually repaired after Raes" death by his widow. The family de Rivière d"Arschot lived here until ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Heers, Belgium

Steinbach Castle

The foundations and the basement of the Steinbach castle date back to the 11th century and are built with schist stone. The stone carved escutcheon built into the façade of the castle contains three scallops referring to Steinbach and Limerlé, and three sickles referring to Grumelscheid. The Steinbach family and dynasty became lords of Rouvroy and Limerlé in 1451 and will keep this title and rule the region until the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Gouvy, Belgium

Corroy-le-Château Castle

Castle of Corroy-le-Château was built between 1220 and 1230 by William of Brabant, the castle is one of the best-preserved medieval buildings in Belgium, with gigantic round towers and a moat. After some eight hundred years in the possession of the descendants of William of Brabant, the counts of Nassau-Corroy. One of the owners was Alexis of Nassau-Corroy, bastard son of Henry III of Nassau-Breda. His descendant Joseph ...
Founded: 1220-1230 | Location: Gembloux, Belgium

Rivieren Castle

Rivieren Castle was originally a defence tower and the present-day castle was build in different phases from the 12th to the 19th century. Originally a possession of the Clutinck family, the castle later changed ownership several times until it finally was sold in 1973. Today, the castle is used for conferences, receptions, expositions and similar kinds of events.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Brussels, 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

Rameyen Castle

The first known owner of Rameyen castle in Gestel was Jan II Berthout who lived in the castle in 1303. The oldest part of the castle is the square keep. This heavy tower dates back to the 13th century. The keep was fitted with cannon holes in the 16th century. A beautiful castle was built around the keep by Van Immerseele and de Cock families. Boudewijn de Cock sold the castle in 1643 to Nicolaas Rubens, the second son o ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gestel, Belgium

Opprebais Castle

Opprebais Castle was built in the first half of the 13th century or maybe at the end of the 12th century probably by a local noble family. It is a square castle with round corner towers. In 1486, the seigniory was sold to Jean de Glimes. It remained in the hands of his descendants until 1660 when the castle was sold to the Dukes of Arenberg. In the 17th century a farm was built inside its walls.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Incourt, Belgium

Humbeek Castle

Humbeek Castle oldest parts date from the 15th and 16th centuries (origins date back to the 14th century). It was badly damaged in the war in late 1500s and restored in the 1600s. The current appearance dates from the 19th century. Humbeek castle is privately owned.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Humbeek, 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

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

Sars-la-Bruyère Castle

Sars-la-Bruyère Castle is a château-ferme, fortified farmhouse. The ruins of the 13th century donjon remain, but the greater part of the château was rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Frameries, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.