Category Archives: Grote Omwalling

The “Grote Omwalling” or great barrier is a defensive city wall which houses several gates, barracks and arsenals. It is probably the last city wall ever constructured.

Fort 7 Hoboken

Description – Fort 7 of Hoboken was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 7 Hoboken had a four pointed star shape with bastions; the design is the same as nearby Fort 6. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 7 was included in the Grote Omwalling and served as an additional redoubt. Construction of the R1 ringroad erased most trances.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.; Cannaerts, J.

Fort 5 Berchem

Description – Fort 5 of Berchem was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 5 Berchem had a five pointed star shape with bastions; the design is the same as Fort 2 Deurne. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 5 was included in the Grote Omwalling and the main building served as a redoubt. Construction of the R1 ringroad erased most trances. Today part of the moat is still accessible in Park Brilschans, named for the former redoubt or fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.; Cannaerts, J.

Lunet 4-5

Description – Lunet 4-5 was located near front 4-5 hence its name. Close to Deurne it secured the access to Antwerp (Turnhoutsepoort) to the southeast.

Construction & Armament – This lunet consisted out of earth works and had no builings.

Current condition – Although the lunet itself has disappeard it can still be identified on satellite images. It is located between the Ten Eekhovelei road and the ringfietspad bicycle road.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Saint Michiel Gate

Description – The Saint Michiel gate (Saint Michael’s Gate) was named after the quarters of Saint Michiel located close to the former Antwerp citadel. It was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the southeast. The gate was part of the front 11-12. The Scheldt river is found east and the gate of Saint Bernard is located to the west. Close to this gate remnats of an earlier fort were incorporated into the Grote Omwalling.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Spoorweg gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces as the southern ringway/motorway junction was built on this site. It is not established if this gate was used during peace time.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Saint Bernard Gate

Description – The gate of Saint Bernard was named for the Saint Bernard road that connected Antwerp with Hemiksem. It was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the southeast. The gate was part of the front 11-12. To the east one finds the Saint Michiels Gate and the Spoorweg gate to the west.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Saint Bernard gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces as the southern ringway/motorway junction was built on this site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Boom Gate

Description – The gate of Boom was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the south and was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp and Kiel. It was named for the main road to Boom. The gate was part of the front 11-12 built after the citadel of Antwerp was decommissioned. The Kiel gate is located more to the east while the Spoorweg gate is located west.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Boom gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces as the southern highway junction was built.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Kiel Gate

Description – The Kiel gate was named after the nearby community of Kiel (south of Antwerp). It was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the south and was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp and Kiel. The gate was part of the front 10-11 and was linked to barracks together with the Saint Laureins gate located a bit more east. It was the last gate built before the new front 11-12 was erected following the demolition of the Antwerp Citadel commenced in 1870.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Kiel gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces. Part of the moat is still present since the site was used for the world exhibition of 1930.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Saint Laureins Gate

Description – The gate of Saint Laureins (Lawrence) was named after the nearby community. It was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the south and was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Berchem) and Wilrijk/Kiel. The gate was part of the front 10-11 and was linked to barracks together with the Kiel gate located a bit more west.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Saint Laureins gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces. Part of the moat is still present since the site was used for the world exhibition of 1930 (Kiel).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Wilrijk Gate

Description – The gate of Wilrijk was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the south. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Berchem) and Middelheim (Den Brandt). The gate was part of the front 9-10 and was linked to barracks together with the Edegem gate located a bit more west.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Wilrijk gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces since both the motorway and tunnel connecting Brussels were constructed on the site. Some contours of the now filled moat can still be discovered if one takes a look at the layout of the nearby roads.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Edegem Gate

Description – The gate of Edegem was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the south. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Berchem) and Middelheim. The gate was part of the front 9-10 and was linked to barracks together with the Wilrijk gate located a bit more east.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants.

Current condition – All remnants of the Edegem gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces since both the motorway and tunnel connecting Brussels were constructed on the site. Some contours of the now filled moat can still be discovered if one takes a look at the layout of the nearby roads.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;