Gravensteen Castle, Ghent

Gravensteen Castle, Ghent (must see)

In 1180 Count Philip of Alsace wanted to impress the sassy burghers of Ghent with the idea that he was the big boss. But Gravensteen originated in the reign of Arnulf I in the 9th century. The site was fortified around 1000 AD, first in wood and then in stone. Philip built his castle in 1180 to replace the motte-and-bailey castle destroyed in 1176.

Philip had been on the Second Crusade and he was impressed by the crusader castles he saw. He wanted one like that. The castle has a central donjon, or keep, a residence and other smaller buildings. These are surrounded by a fortified enclosure with 24 small- sized barbicans. A large moat, fed by the river Leie, completes the picture.

The castle was the main residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1353. Louis of Male (1330-1384) was the last tenant in possession of Gravensteen. He moved to nearby Court of Walls as Gravensteen Castle was falling into disrepair.

After the last of the Counts departed, conditions at the castle took a nosedive. It was used as a court and prison-torture house until the 18th century. From 1353 to 1491 it was also a mint. During the industrial revolution it became a cotton mill. How the mighty had fallen!

In 1893 the city of Ghent had bought enough of the castle to begin major restorations. Under the direction of architect Joseph de Waele, a romanticized Gothic style was used to recall the castle's 12th century appearance. The Gravensteen starred in the Ghent World's Fair of 1913. The castle is open to the public.

Why You Should Visit:
To go back in time and enjoy the excellent views of Ghent's medieval skyline from the top (particularly at dusk).
Nowhere else in the world will you find such a massive castle right in the heart of the city!

Save time and skip the queue by booking tickets online, but make sure you go early enough. Don't skip the (free) entertaining audio guide – you'll probably never hear another like it!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm (last admission: 5pm)

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Ghent. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Gravensteen Castle on Map

Sight Name: Gravensteen Castle
Sight Location: Ghent, Belgium (See walking tours in Ghent)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Ghent, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Ghent

Create Your Own Walk in Ghent

Creating your own self-guided walk in Ghent is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Ghent Introduction Walking Tour

Ghent Introduction Walking Tour

Some historians believe "Ghent" comes from the Celtic word, "ganda." "Ganda" meant a confluence, as with two rivers. There are traces of human settlements as far back as the stone age at the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Leie in Belgium.

With the Frankish invasions at the end of the 4th century AD, the Celtic language was replaced by Old Dutch and this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Ghent's Historical Buildings

Ghent's Historical Buildings

The medieval city of Ghent is full of wonderful old buildings, some dating back as far as the 12th-13th centuries. Medieval buildings are indeed everywhere here, and if you're interested in the heritage fit to capture you imagination, you will find plenty of it in Ghent’s historic downtown.

And you won’t have to look far for the World Heritage worthy of its name either. The Castle of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles