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.
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.;
The fort of Saint Philip (Fort Sint-Filips) is located near Kallo (Eastern-Flanders) on the right bank of the river Scheldt. It guarded the nautical access to the port of Antwerp. MiLANT takes a special interest in forts that are located near this river. They are considered to be maritime heritage sites and are unique. This fort is a true coastal battery with large caliber guns (280mm and 240mm) but unfortunately its remains are covered by sand. The site is polluted and very dangerous to access.
Based on photographs, schematics and oral feedback MiLANT has partly restored this fort to its former splendor. Initial drawings were made with SketchUp. Final rendering was carried out using V-RAY. Both programs are not in use by MiLANT since Autodesk 3DSMax and Octane Render are more suitable alternatives. It is our hope that this fort would one day be restored and used as a visiting center to the port of Antwerp or maritime heritage.
Description – The Redan “Put van Fien” is located on the defensive dyke that connects the fort of Zwijndrecht to the south with fort Fort Saint Mary to the north. It was built defend the road between the village of Kallo and Fort Saint Mary. It also featured the defense of a road between Kallo/Melsele and the polder area. Its name was given by the local population but its origin remains unclear. It is one of the smallest defensive earth structures of the Antwerp fortress.
Construction & Armament – Construction of the redan, lunet and the dyke commenced in 1871 together with the military road encircling Antwerp. East of the dyke the area could be flooded when a siege would take place. West the Borgerweertpolder area allowed a defending army to take refuge. It did not see any action in 1914 since the Siege of Antwerp was centered on the right bank of the Scheldt river. The redan is surrounded by a wet moat which runs up north to Fort Saint Mary.
Armament – Redan “Put van Fien”
Commander 1914 – ?
Current condition – The defensive dyke did not see any action during the Great War. When it lost its military role it was kept as a safety barrier in case of floods. In 1953 a flood damaged part of the dyke and the redan was almost completely destroyed. Nothing remains of the military buildings that were built on the site. The shape of the redan is still visible. Put van Fien is located in a protected habitat site but can be accessed free of charge.
Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.
Description – Fort De Perel was located near the river Scheldt at Kallo, now located in the port of Antwerp. It was named after an earlier fort built by Spanish forces and subsequent Austrian military commands at rougly the same location. It was built to secure the access to the river together with fort Saint Mary and fort Saint Philip. It was considered to be a coastal fort or battery.
Construction – This fort was designed for coastal defense and has the same basic design as fort Saint Pilip. It features a dry moat, a central reduit with three armoured coupolas which were powered by steam kettles. Because of unstable soil the fort was built using long wooden piles/beams. A gunpowder magazine was located at the landside entrance and deviates lightly from the Saint Philip design.
3 Coupolas (never installed)
4x 240mm coastal heavy artillery (never installed)
2x 280mm coastal heavy artillery (never installed)
Current condition – Fort De Perel was probably left undamaged in 1914. In 1944’s it was used as a storage facility by the German army for sea mines. When they were forced to retreat they detonated the remaining mines causing damage. The fort was demolished in 1958 when the port of Antwerp expanded to the left bank of the Scheldt river.