The Castle of the Counts, or in Dutch het gravensteen, is one of the few castles in Flanders that remained intact during the centuries. It’s located in the city of Ghent. It was built by Philip of Alsace, in the early Middle Ages. He’s famous for his statement “I’ll show them who’s boss” and that’s exactly what he did when he built this castle. During the Middle Ages, it was the residence of the Counts of Flanders. During the years, the castle has been famous for different purposes such as a store and cotton plant and even a prison. The houses around the castle were houses for the textile workers. Those houses disappeared and the castle is now standing proud in the middle of the city.
Let me take you on a medieval tour
1. The gateway
Above the gateway is a Latin inscription: “anno incarnationis MCLXXX Philippus Comes Flandrie et Viromandie filius Thirici comitis et Cibilie fecit hoc castellum componi” (translation: inaugural year 1180 Philips Count of Flanders and Vermandois son Diederik Count and Sybille founded this castle).
2. The courtyard
In the courtyard you will see the steps, leading to the different rooms. You can also go downstairs if you’d like to see the cellar. There’s also a gift shop in case you’d like to take something home with you.
3. The cellar
The door is open but it’s easy to miss this part as most people go upstairs to see the other rooms. There’s not much to see here but it’s a nice atmosphere.
4. The medieval hall
The first hall you will see is a typical medieval hall. Here, you will see the weapons of that time and the armor of the knights. I don’t think it must have been comfortable to walk around in a thing like that.
5. The view from the top
This is what you were waiting for, isn’t it? The view from the top is one of the best views you can get. A 360° view and you don’t know where to look first. It’s a nice way to get to know the city of Ghent (or to find your way in case you were looking for something in particular).
6. The guillotine
This was a quick way to lose your head (literally). If you’d like to make things fun, try sticking your head in this thing. I did it once.
7. Methods of torture
This is the “torture room” where you can see which techniques were applied, from drowning to stretching limbs. Believe me, they are far from pleasant.
8. View all around the castle
You can walk all around the castle but watch your step – you’re walking on a platform a couple of meters above the ground. Don’t get dizzy or you’re going down (real quick).
9. The main room
This might look familiar because it’s the opposite side of the gateway. This is what it looks like on the inside. It used to be the room of the count and it’s the most important room. You can even see the old toilet (I’m not even kidding).
Have you been here or did you visit another medieval castle? Which one and what did you think?