Category Archives: Era

Major timeframe of the main building

Fort Liefkenshoek

Fort Liefkenshoek
Fort Liefkenshoek

Description – The fort of Liefkenshoek (1579) was erected by the city of Antwerp to defend the Scheldt river access during the Dutch-Spanish war. It was captured by Spanish forces during the beginning of the siege of Antwerp in 1584. Later Dutch forces to the north were able to close the river for both commercial trade and military vessels. Subsequent Spanish (1584-1786) and Austrian rule (1786-1794) aimed to open the river once again but to no avail. During French reign the fort was refitted since Antwerp became the new maritime arsenal (arsenal maritime) in order to allow an invasion of England. The Scheldt river was opened because the revolutionary and later imperial armies controlled The Netherlands as well. The Belgian uprising of 1830 against Dutch rule did not lead to a capture of the fort. Together with the Antwerp citadel, Fortress Lillo and Fort Vlaams Hoofd it remained under Dutch control effectively closing the river once again. In 1839 the treaty of separation handed over Lillo and Liefkenshoek to Belgian rule but The Netherlands retained control over the river Scheldt to this present day. The fort lost its military role at the end of the 19th century; it continued to serve as a hospital (1849-1952). Its name was most likely derived from a now gone small stream or river near the fort.

Construction & Armament – This fort most likely started off as a redoubt constructed in 1577; its counterpart Lillo is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt. Built on a strategic location it was able to secure the river access and possibly served as a landing station for troops garrisoned at nearby defensive works. It features a four-pointed star shape with bastions. Its transition to a fort was carried out between 1577 and 1583. Two ravelins were constructed, one located facing north and an other one facing a southern direction. Since the area around the fort could be inundated it was difficult to capture. One gate allowed access to the fort: it is located facing the river. A powder magazine was placed in the southwestern bastion of the fort in 1808 together with barracks. Later a second larger magazine was erected in 1810. French engineers also built a “cat” (French: cavalier) on the central square of the fort (terreplein) in 1811. Although the fort had a permanent garrison and some civilians living within its walls its predominant military character allow it to be classified as a fort rather than a fortress.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The fort of Liefkenshoek lost its military role in 1894. It did not see action during the siege of Antwerp thereafter. German forces occupied the site from 1914 onwards and added several small bunkers (pillboxes). The Belgian army installed two guns on the northeast bastion of the fort during the interbellum. The gate of the fort was rebuilt in 1844 but severely damaged by a German flying bomb impact during the last phases of the Second World War. In 1954 a part of the rampart of the fort was dumped in the moat in order to allow expansion within. In 1980 the municipality of Beveren became owner of the fort and restoration started thereafter. More in-depth information about the military and political significance of this fort and the river Scheldt can be found in specialized literature (in Dutch). The fort can be visited and is in good condition: it became a heritage site in 1985. A tourist information office is present on site; a permanent exposition highlights the history of the fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Cools, H & Van Meirvenne, R; Van Hooydonk, E.;

Het Steen

Het Steen
Het Steen

Description – Het Steen (the Stone) is the oldest fortress of Antwerp. Oldest archeological evidence indicate the stone walls were built around 982 but the castle itself dates from later dates. During the Middle Ages it remained a seat of power for the Dukes of Brabant. From 1303 onwards it was used as a prison. The fortress had several towers and in the middle the Saint Walburgis church was located. To the east ship could moor at the Werf quay zone. It lost this status during Dutch rule in the first half of the 19th century. Het Steen is the only remain part of the larger fortress that was demolished in 1880 to pave the way for port expansion. For some time it served as a museum.

Construction & Armament – It was constructed by order of Emperor Otto II of Germany (Holy Roman Empire) because the river Scheldt became a border zone of after the split of the empire of Charlemange in 843 (Treaty of Verdun). Together with Ename and Dendermonde it received a fortified castle/town. Archeological evidence prove that there were earlier settlements south of Antwerp dating back to the Vikings. During the reign of Charles V the fortress was refitted. On the castle towers the flag of the duchy of Brabant still flies.

Armament – Medieval Castle

  • Medieval

Current condition – Large parts of the former fortress were demolished in 1880 because port expansion demanded straightening of the existing quays. The Walburgis church was torn down and most of the walls were destroyed as well.  The remaining buildings were henceforth referrer to as Het Steen. It can be visited free of charge.

Sources – Own elaboration;

Scheldt Battery South

Description – The Scheldt Battery South was part of the Veiligheidsomwalling. It is unique redoubt located between  Redoubt XVIII to the east and  the river Scheldt the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the north but was not included in the defensive positions. The battery served as the redoubt equivalent of coastal defenses as its counterpart in the north.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to have an unique design with elements of the standard redoubts featuring artillery. It is an asymmetrical structure with two cupolas built in front. It had only one flank with 75mm guns installed. A similar design would be applied to the northern Scheldt battery.

Armament – Scheldt Battery

  • 2x 75mm fortress gun
  • ?x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – This battery was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914 but it is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. It was demolished and converted into an industrial storage site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XVIII

Description – Redoubt XVIII of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VII and Redoubt XVII to the east and  the southern river Scheldt battery to the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the north but was not included in the defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XVIII was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. The redoubt still exists but is located on an industrial storage site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XVII

Description – Redoubt XVII of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VII and Redoubt XVI to the east and  Redoubt XVIII to the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the north but was not included in the defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XVII was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. The redoubt still exists and can be visited free of charge and is a reasonable condition.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XVI

Redoubt XVI
Redoubt XVI

Description – Redoubt XVI of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VII and Redoubt XV to the east and  Redoubt XVII to the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the west but was not included in the defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XVI was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. The redoubt still exists and can be visited free of charge. Based on the damage to the front cupola building it is likely that the garrison destroyed it when they evacuated. It is in quite reasonable condition, some graffiti present. The moat is still present although a bit overgrown. It serves as a playground for children who use the bumpy terrain as a mountain bike course. The site can be accessed by the Moerelei but is difficult to reach by car.

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Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XV

Redoubt XV
Redoubt XV

Description – Redoubt XV of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VII and Redoubt IV to the east and  Redoubt XVI to the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the west but was not included in the defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XIV was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. In 1984 it was converted into a restaurant by L. Van Laere. The redoubt was demolished in 2005 (?) although it was considered to be a heritage site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XIV

Redoubt XIV
Redoubt XIV


Description –
Redoubt XIV of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VII to the east and  Redoubt XV to the west. Fort VIII Hoboken is found to the west but was not included in the defensive positions.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XIV was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. No traces of the redoubt were found on the former site since it has been converted to an industrial zone.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XIII

Description – Redoubt XIII of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VI to the east and  Fort VII to the west. Redoubt XII was constructed a little more to the east.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XI was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. No traces of the redoubt were found on the former site.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Redoubt XII

Description – Redoubt XII of the Veiligheidsomwalling is a small redoubt located between  Fort VI to the east and  Fort VII to the west. Redoubt XIII was constructed a little more to the west.

Construction & Armament – This concrete redoubt was constructed between 1910 and 1912. It is considered to be standard redoubt featuring artillery and secured the interval between two adjacent forts. The redoubt featured a wet moat but has only one floor. It is smaller than the design of the Hoofdweerstandstelling redoubt. One cupola was built in front of the redoubt: it had one 75mm gun installed. Two 75mm guns secured the intervals.

Armament – Veiligheidsomwalling Redoubt

  • 3x 75mm fortress gun

Current condition – Redoubt XII was completed when the Great War broke out in 1914. It is not known if it participated in any defensive actions. No remains of the redoubt can be found today but its location can be determined by aerial photographs.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.