Skip to main content

The Castle of the Counts in Ghent

Het Gravensteen or the Castle of the Counts is a medieval fortress in the heart of the city with narrow tower stairs, strong battlements, rooms that appeal to the imagination, and a magnificent view over the city of Ghent. The castle owes its existence to the counts of Flanders. In the ninth century, Count Baldwin II built fortifications in all strategic places in his empire to protect himself against attacks from outside. His son, Arnulf I, continues his work. The Castle of the Counts is still one of the remaining buildings of that time.

Picture by Pixabay

The Gravensteen has never been a full-time residence for the counts. They only stayed there when the count's royal household is in Ghent. The castle was actually mainly the administrative center of the county. The count's administration was located there and they administered justice. Besides a court of law, the Castle of the Counts was also a prison. The semi-underground cells that are housed in it are damp and drafty and very cold, especially in winter. Torture also happened. Although the legal procedure of torture was no longer applied in the early Middle Ages, it was reintroduced at the time of the Council of Flanders. From the fifteenth century, torture such as scourging and stretching of limbs is again used.

Picture by Pixabay

After an eventful history of several centuries and functions, the city wanted to demolish the dilapidated building and sell the land as building land. Fortunately, there is no interest in the project and the Ghent city council, together with the Belgian state, started buying back the site from various owners. During the subsequent restoration, architect Jozef De Waele opted for a romantic interpretation of the castle of Philip of Alsace. The Castle of the Counts has been open to the public since 1907. The World Exhibition in 1913 marked the beginning of its reputation as the largest tourist attraction in Ghent for the Castle of the Counts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Belgian kids got to drink beer during their school lunch

There are almost 800 different kinds of beer in Belgium. One kind was very popular till the70's, it was even given to kids at school during their lunch break. Beer to kids? You must be kidding! Well, let's go a bit further into this. The beers we are talking about were so-called table beers, a kind of beer that was specially made for people who can't drink alcohol. So it's was a kind of alcohol-free beer, a kind, because there was some alcohol in it. between 1 and 4 percent alcohol. The most popular table beer was Piedboeuf, it had 1.1 percent alcohol in it and there was a lot of sugar added to make it as sweet as Coca-Cola. A good marketing strategy made that it was well distributed in almost all schools in Belgium. The reason was that it would be very healthy for them, because of the natural ingredients and of course the sugar. It would make them grow fast and strong. It would even be good for pregnant women and for women that were breastfeeding their baby'

How the Belgians founded New York

In order to avoid any confusion in this story, it is important to know that in the sixteenth century, the Netherlands covered a part of northern France and Lorraine, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the present Netherlands. Its inhabitants were called the Belgians, and the maps represented the country in the shape of a lion: the "Leo Belgicus". Besides, numerous maps from the sixteenth century showed this territory under the name of Belgium. The latter failed into disuse for the benefit of the Netherlands and only reappeared in 1789 on the occasion of the first Belgian revolution. In 1831 Belgium became an independent country. Today Belgium is a lot smaller and is divided into two big regions mostly based on the language they speak in that particular region. In the north, there is Flanders where they speak Flemish (Dutch) and in the south, there is the Walloon part where they speak French. Almost in the center and between the two parts is the region of the capital Brussels.

A secret medieval street in Antwerp

The Vlaeykensgang is a unique small street in the center of Antwerp. Hidden between two busy Antwerp streets and close to the Cathedral. This medieval times street can easily be walked past unnoticed. Behind its meter-wide entrance, there is an oasis. A step into the passage with its quiet courtyards transports visitors back in time, back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Picture by Harry Fabel Previously, the street was the domain of shoemakers, who had to sound the alarm bell of the Cathedral, also some of the poorest people of the city lived in that very small street. Now you will find antique shops, art galleries, and an exclusive restaurant, Sir Anthony Van Dyck. There is a subdued atmosphere and the street is a popular place to listen to the cathedral's summer carillon concerts. At its heart, you find the Axel Vervoordt Gallery. Picture by Harry Fabel The "Vlaeykensgang" exists as a key piece of Antwerp’s architectural and sociological history, offering a rar