Category Archives: Brick

Structure based on brickwork

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. ;

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 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.

Fort 2 Deurne

Description – The fort of Deurne 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 (pallisades). 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 2 Deurne had a five pointed star shape. 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.  Parts of the fort (2) of Deurne still exist today. It is the only remnant of the first generation of forts and has been converted to a sports center (Arena hal Deurne).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort 3 Berchem

Description – The fort 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 3 Berchem 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.  Presumably the fort was completely demolished since it does not show on maps since 1859. No known remains of Fort 3 still exist today.

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