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.

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. ;

Borsbeek Gate

Description – The gate of Borsbeek was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the west. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Zurenborg) and a mean road to Borsbeek/Mortsel. The gate was part of the front 7-8 and was linked to barracks together with the “Spoorbaan” gate located a bit more south.

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 Borsbeek gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces. Since some debris have been found on the site of the former Antwerp X postal distribution center traces might still exist.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Breda Gate

Description – The gate of Breda was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) up north. It was a non-monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp and the road to Merksem and Breda. Close to the gate the Capine Canal (and later the Albert Canal) entered the port and city of Antwerp.

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

Current condition – All traces of the Breda gate has been demolished when the port of Antwerp expanded to the north. The access to the Asia and Capine dock was filled with eart (currently IJzerlaan).

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. ;

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.

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.

Herentals Gate

Description – The Herentals gate was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the west. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp and the road to Turnhout/Herentals. The gate was part of the front 5-6 and was linked to barracks together with the Turnhout gate.

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 Herentals gate have been demolished in 1931. Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces. Some debris was recovered in 2005 and one big stone is still on display.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ; Vanbosch, K.

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. ;

Leopold Gate

Description – The gate of Leopold was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the west. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Borgerhout) and to Deurne. The gate was part of the front 6-7 and was linked to barracks together with the Louisa gate located a bit more south.

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 Leopold gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Louise Gate

Description – The Louise/Louisa Gate was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the west. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Borgerhout/Zurenborg) and to Deurne named for the Queen consorts of the Belgians Louise of Orléans. The gate was part of the front 6-7 and was linked to barracks together with the gate of Leopold gate located a bit more north.

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 Louise gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;