Gravensteen or the Castle of the Counts

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Sint-Veerleplein, Ghent, Belgium
+32 9225 9306

Gravensteen or the Castle of the Counts Ghent Reviews

tjwood tjwood
66 reviews
Neat Castle to Visit Dec 08, 2011
This does cost to get in but you a lot of information on the castle and surroundings.

Excellent city views are to be found on the to of the castle walls. Check out also the room of armor and arms. Lots of neat and interesting pictures abound also.

Check the local area too for good food and shopping.
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ik-ben-10eke ik-ben-1…
68 reviews
Het Gravensteen Aug 01, 2009
(In dutch as well - scroll down).

Gravensteen, the name explains it all: A stone building for the count, in this case the count of Flanders.

A bit of history:

The choice to built the castle on this very spot was because it was a higher sandplate between the Leie’s riverbranches, thus a higher and dry place in the midst of a wetland.

The original fortification was a wooden one, and most probably dates bact to the 9th century.

After several rebuildings count Philip of Alsace in 1180 buildt a new well defendable castle on the spot of the old wooden one, which acted as a residence for the counts of Flanders, until the second part of the 14th century when it was used for other purposes, a.o. a prison.

After the Middle Ages lots of townhouses were built in the near environment, thus closing in the castle.

At the 19th century the castle got into private possesion and was rebuilt into an industrial block, in which a cotton spinning-mill was founded.

At the end of the 19th centure the value of the building was acknowledged again, and state and town bought the castle from the private owner. Restoration projects started in 1894, and the Gravensteen became soon know as a monument one must have seen.


The castle exists of a central hall, a gate-way with entrance building, which adjoined the surrounding wall with the 24 extended towers. Stone of different colors were used in this project; the castle became thus a sure sign of the power of the counts in turbulent Ghent.

The roundtour at the castle is well directed with numbered arrows. In every hall relevant information is given. In some of the halls there are exhibitions, a.o. one on weapons and a torturechamber (yuck).

Spiral stairs lead you to the defence wall, where you walk behind the pinnacles, the boards and the extended defence towers.

In the entrace fee a guided movie tour is included, which takes about 40 minutes.

Guided (thematic) tours are available for groups.


Dutch version:

Het Gravensteen: De naam zegt het eigenlijk al, een stenen gebouw voor de graaf, in dit geval de graaf van Vlaanderen.

Een beetje geschiedenis:

De keuze voor juist deze plek werd gemaakt omdat het een verhoogde zandrug tussen de armen van de rivier de Leie was, droge grond met moerassig land erom heen dus.

De oospronkelijke versterking was van hout, en stamt waarschijnlijk uit de 9e eeuw.

Na verschillende verbouwingen werd door graaf Filips van de Elzas (Philip of Alsace) in 1180 op de plaats van het kasteel een geheel nieuwe goed verdedigbare burcht opgetrokken, en diende tot in de 14e eeuw als residentie voor de graven van Vlaanderen, waarna het andere functies kreeg, o.a. als gevangenis.

Na de Middeleeuwen werden er veel stadshuizen om het kasteel heen gebouwd.

In de 19e eeuw kwam het kasteel in particuliere handen en werd het omgebouwd tot een industrieel complex.

Aan het eind van de 19e eeuw werd opnieuw de waarde van het Gravensteen ingezien, en werd het kasteel door Rijk en Stad teruggekocht In 1894 werd begonnen met de restauratie, en het Gravensteen werd het al snel bekend als een monument wat men gezien moest hebben.


Het kasteel bestaat uit een centrale zaalconstructie, een poort met voorbouw welke aansloot op de omheining met 24 uitkragende torens. Hierbij werden stenen van diverse kleuren gebruikt; het kasteel werd zodoende een niet mis te verstaan teken van de grafelijke macht in woelig Gent.

De rondleiding door het kasteel wordt goed aangegeven met genummerde pijlen. In iedere zaal is relevante informatie te vinden. In enkele zalen zijn exposities ingericht o.a. een wapenverzameling en een martelkamer (yuck).

Via wenteltrappen klim je tot de verdedigingsmuur, de route gaat o.a. via deze muur waarover je achter de kantelen, de luiken en de uitkragende torens kan lopen.

Bij de prijs inbegrepen is een movieguide, duur ongeveer 40 minuten, waarop diverse videofilmpjes te zien zijn.

Ook zijn er voor groepen (thema)-rondleidingen met gids.
Gravensteen with the Flanders Lion…
On the wall, with the defenders-to…
View towards the town
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
delsol67 says:
Looks like my kind of place....very interesting.
Posted on: Aug 17, 2009
Chokk Chokk
1733 reviews
Gravensteen or Castle of the Counts Apr 27, 2008
One of the main attractions of the many in Gent is the Castle of the Counts or GRAVENSTEEN in Dutch. The counts of Flanders had castles built in the principal cities of the county. Because they had to maintain law and order, they continuously had to move from one city to the other. Therefore, they disposed of a castle in most cities where they wanted to stay for a few months. The castle of Ghent is the only one which survived the centuries more or less intact.

Archeological excavations have proved that three fortified castles constructed in wood must have stood on the site of today's Gravensteen. Already around the year 1000 the first stone castle must have been erected here. Parts of this, such as the chimney and the fireplace, can still be found in the walls of the lower floors of the main tower.

The Gravensteen, like we know it today, has been constructed by Fillips of Alsasse who was count of Flanders between 1157 and 1191. He took part in one of the crusades and died during the siege of Akko in the Holy Land. The opening in the form of a cross, right above the main entrance gate, proves that he already had taken part in a crusade when the Castle was built around 1177-1178. The Gravensteen functioned as the centre of the Count's power during the early Middle-Ages. This is somewhat symbolized by the main keep or 'donjon' (tower) from where one can have a panoramic view over the city.

Next to the castle lies the Veerleplein (Veerle square), which where the place public executions took place. The Gravensteen has been used in later times for different purposes. After the counts moved to more comfortable mansions in the later centuries, it was used as the Mint and later as the main prison of Gent. In the nineteenth century a cotton plant was installed here. In the inner court little houses were built for the textile workers of the plant.

Today, the Gravensteen has been beautifully restored. It is still partially surrounded by the medieval moat. It can be visited all through the year. Inside one of the rooms is a museum about the history of prison life and organization, with a very instructive (!) collection of medieval torture instruments.


Adults: 6.00 euro

Groups (+ 15 pers.): 3.00 euro

Senior citizens (+ 55 years): 1.20 euro

Youths (-25 years): 1.20 euro

Schools: 1.20 euro

Children (up to 12 years): free

Inhabitants of Ghent: free
Gravensteen seen from the main ent…
The walls of Gravensteen
The main hall of Gravensteen
Inside the walls of Gravensteen
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Chokk says:
You have to do that ;)
Posted on: Jul 28, 2012
missandrea81 says:
I think I'm going to go see this. :)
Posted on: Jul 28, 2012

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