Category Archives: Right-Bank

Structure located on the right bank of the river Scheldt. They feature defensive capabilities to withstand a siege by a field army.

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. ;

Blauwgaren Battery

Description – The battery of Blauwgaren was a coastal defensive structure located near Lillo (port of Antwerp) built in 1911. Its namesake dates back to earlier forts and redoubts during the Dutch war of independence against Spanish forces. This concrete coastal battery was constructed to prevent an enemy naval force sailing up the river Scheldt.

Construction & Armament – This coastal battery comprised several earth works, four gun platforms and a concrete main building. The southern flank remained open but the surrounding area could be inundated when necessary.

Armament –

  • 4x 120mm Coastal Gun (M1913)

Current condition – In 1914 Blauwgaren Battery didn’t participate in any operation but the Belgian Army command of Antwerp ordered the garrison to destroy the guns and the main building on the 8th of October. German forces occupied the site and built five bunkers during the Great War to close the Scheldt access. Remains of the battery and the German bunkers were displaced during the 1953 flood. In order to close breached dykes sand and dirt was retrieved from the earth works. Remains of the battery were burried and levelled when the port of Antwerp expanded in following years. The presence of munition could not be confirmed nor denied.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R; Oliviers, T.; Documentatiecentrum Antwerpse Noorderpolders

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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.

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.

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. ;

Ekeren Gate

Description – The gate of Ekeren 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 Ekeren.

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 Ekeren gate has been demolished when the port of Antwerp expanded to the north.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort ‘s Gravenwezel

Description – The fort of ‘s Gravenwezel is a concrete (armored) fort of the second order with detached caponnieres. It is part of the hoofdweerstandstelling and is located in the upper north of the Antwerp defensive positions. This fort guarded the main road to Turnhout together with the redoubt of Schilde.

Construction & Armament – The fort was made out of unarmed concrete and construction commenced in 1902. In 1907 it was considered to be completed. Its design is similar to Fort Sint-Katelijne-Waver and Fort Stabroek and features a full range of of artillery cupolas. It features a detached reverse caponniere, two side caponnieres and back/rear caponniere to defend the intervals between forts and redoubts. It features a wet moat.

Armament – Fort Second Order

  • 2x 150mm fortress gun
  • 2x 120mm fortress gun
  • 4x 75mm
  • 2(?)x 57mm

Commander 1914 – ?

Current condition – The Fort of ‘s Gravenwezel did not see action during the Great War. Some damage to the fort was inflicted by the retreating garrison. Later it became part of a German defensive position from 1917 onwards (Hollandstellung Nord) and a garrison continued to occupy the fort until the armistice of 1918. In 1939 an anti tank ditch was built connecting the fort with the Redoubt Schilde to the south and Redoubt Audaan to the north. The fort became private property after the Second World War. Today it is a trailer residence site. Some parts of the fort are still visible but a general visit to the fort is not possible. The fort is considered to be in bad condition as much of the original layout was altered.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort 1 Merksem

Description – The small fort (1) of Merksem 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 fort of Merksem located more northeast. It was built on a strategic location to guard the main road to Breda (Bredabaan) 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 1 Merksem had a four pointed star shape with bastions. 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 1 of Merksem was demolished to allow the town of Merksem to expand. It’s shape can roughly be identified if one looks at aerial photographs. No part of this fort is still visible on site. Parts have become a housing area. Note: other sources locate this fort near the later Turnhout Gate.

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