The Gravensteen

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Gravensteen by night

Gravensteen by night

Ragna Meul

Gravensteen is the Dutch name for the 'castle of the count'. 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 built 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.

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 castle has had plenty of restaurations, be very carefull, some of the later restaurations has been to undo restaurations done in the 1890s that were a bit to far from the reality... Back in 1890 the site was a pile of stones and  people just looked at some old drawings and built something that was in the style of the drawings but not always historicaly correct.

Apart from being an impressive Medieval building, the Gravensteen contains an interesting collection of arms of that time (and a bit later).

May 02, 2006 change by roelof

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