Category Archives: 1859

Constructed by order of the Belgian Law of 1859

Citadel of Antwerp

Description – The citadel of Antwerp was built in the wake of religious wars in the Neterlands. It was commissioned by the Duke of Alva sent by Philip II of Spain to quell any resistance in Antwerp. It served both as a defensive structure as well as a base of operations for Spanish, Austrian, French, Dutch and Belgian forces. It became notorious for the Spanish Fury in 1576 where the city was plundered and many citizens lost their lives. The city hall of Antwerp still commemorates this war crime. In 1832 it became the theater of Dutch resistance during the Belgian war of independence  as a French army besieged this fortress under the command of Marshal Gérard. The people of Antwerp had always resented the presence of the citadel and in 1870 King Leopold II of Belgium agreed that it would be sold and leveled. A new district, Antwerp-South (‘t Zuid) was established and it served as the hallmark of the belle epoque era. It became home to the wealthy and influential elite of Antwerp until the Second World War.

Construction & Armament – The fort(ress) was built in 1567 featuring a five pointed star with bastions. It was constructed close to the Scheldt river. In 1572 the citadel was completed and a garrison moved in. In a response to the atrocities committed during the Spanish Fury notables of Antwerp ordered the wall facing the city to be demolished in 1577. But when hostilities continued it one again became a citadel and a distinctive feature of the city. The five bastions were named Toledo, Pacietto, Alva, Duc and Hernando. The citadel featured many buildings (powder magazines, a chapel,…) and was updated several times. The French refitted the citadel since Antwerp became the Arsenal Maritime in order to host an invasion force for England. The lunet of Kiel and Saint Laureis were added. During the Belgian occupation of the fort an extra battery on the terreplein was added.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The citadel of Antwerp retained its five pointed star design throughout history. Because of rapid advancements in artillery technology it was rendered obsolete. It could no longer fight off an enemy force attacking the city. People living in Antwerp did not like the presence of the citadel since it became a premier symbol of oppression by central authorities. Next to the 1576 Spanish Fury the city was again attacked by this fort this time on 27th of October 1830 by order of the Dutch general Chassé. Whatever lead to this course of action, Dutch sources claim Belgian rebels did not respect an agreed armistice, the disproportional use of force did and does not warrant these grave atrocities against the civilian population. In 1832 the French Armée du Nord rushed trough Flanders in order to force the remaining Dutch garrison to evacuate the citadel. A siege lasted from November 15th to December 23th and a French victory was the result when the citadel could no longer receive supplies by the river Scheldt. The Belgian Army occupied the site when the French left and ordered repairs. In 1870, after several petitions to the Belgian King by the counsel and citizens of Antwerp, the citadel was sold and leveled. A French monument commemorating the victory in 1832 was refused by the city so it was placed in Tournai (Doornik). Today no traces of the citadel are visible. Recent archeological research has shown there are still remains present.

Sources – Own elaboration; Lombaerde, P.

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. ;

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. ;

Mechelen Gate

Description – The Mechelen gate was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the east. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Borgerhout) and to Deurne. The gate was part of the front 8-9 and was linked to barracks together with the Berchem 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 Mechelen gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces but a part of the nearby fortifications can still be found on the Wolvenberg park/terrain more to the east. To the south a part of the moat still exists (Brilschans).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Berchem Gate

Description – The Berchem gatewas part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the east. It was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Borgerhout) and to Deurne. The gate was part of the front 8-9 and was linked to barracks together with the Mechelen 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 Berchem gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces but a part of the nearby fortifications can still be found on the Wolvenberg park/terrain. More to the south one can still distinguish part of the moat at Brilschans park.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R. ;

Spoorbaan Gate

Description – The Spoorbaan Gate is named for the nearby railway connecting Antwerp with Mechelen and Brussels. It was part of the Grote Omwalling (city defensive wall) to the west. The gate was a monumental gate that offered acces to Antwerp (Berchem) and to Borsbeek/Mortsel. This gate was part of the front 7-8 and was linked to barracks together with the Borsbeek gate located a bit more north. It should not be confused with the Spoorweg Gate which is located closer to the Scheldt river east.

Construction & Armament – This monumental gate was built using bricks and earth works. The Grote Omwalling entails two defensive moats and intervals called saillants. It is possible that the design of the gate was altered a bit since the railway access was located nearby.

Current condition – Most remnants of the Spoorbaan gate have been demolished in 1931 (?). Later the construction of the Antwerp ring road erased most traces. When the former postal distribution facility of Antwerpen X was demolished remants of the Spoorbaan gate were discovered. An ad hoc archeological survey was conducted but surviving brick work were torn down.

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. ;