Castle of the Counts of Flanders, Ghent

Castle of the Counts of Flanders Ghent

The Castle of the Counts of Flanders is known in Ghent as Gravensteen, flemish word that refers to the county seat. Almost all the counts of the Flemish Region were building castles in the main cities in the county. These castles were used to accommodate them, because the counts were constantly traveling from city to city in order to maintain law and order.

In occasions, they could stay until months residing in the castle. Precisely, the castle of Ghent has been one of the few ones that, thanks to this continuated use, has survived almost intact along the centuries.

History of the Castle of the Counts

The archaeological excavations in Gravensteen have been able to rule that, in the present location of the castle, came to be built up to three strengths above, all of them made in wood. The first stone of the current castle had to have been placed around the year 1000. Possibly the oldest part of the same is the main tower.

Gravensteen, as we know it today was built by Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders, between years 1157 and 1191. He took part in one of the Crusades and died during the siege of the Holy Land. The opening of the castle, in the shape of a cross, just above the main door, demonstrates that Felipe had already taken part in any another crusade.

Gravensteen functioned as the center of power of the Counts of Flanders during the Middle Ages. The main tower was very important for this, from where is possible to overlook the entire city of Ghent. The climbing up to the tower is perhaps one of the most fabulous aspects of the visit. Next to the castle is the Veerleplein, a place where is commonly performed by the public executions which the Counts ordered.

In later times, the Gravensteen has been used with different purposes, even to be the municipal jail of Ghent. In the nineteenth century it was used as a store and cotton plant. In the small interior courtyard is located the houses built for the textile workers of the plant. Today, Gravensteen has been perfectly restored. Is still surrounded by the medieval moat, and can be visited at any time of the year. In their rooms is a museum on the history of prison life, with a series of curious instruments of torture of all times.

Castle of the Counts of Flanders Ghent

Information to visit the Castle of the Counts

  • Address: Sint-Veerleplein 11 – Ghent
  • Accesibility from train station:
    • Tram: lines 1 or 4 (stop “Gravensteen”)
    • Bus: lines 3, 17, 18, 38 and 39 (stop “Korenmarkt”)
  • Opening Hours:
    • Summer period (1st April – 31st October): open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Winter period (1st November – 31st March): open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Closed on 24th, 25th and 31st December and 1st January.
  • Prices:
    • Adults: 10 €
    • Seniors, more than 65: 7,5 €
    • Youngers, from 19 to 25: 6 €
    • Up to 19 years: free

To visit near the Castle

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