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Fort 7

Belgian Castles

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Fort 7 lies in the town of Borsbeek, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium. It is situated almost directly next to the runway of Antwerp International Airport.

After Belgium gained its independance in 1830, the fear of a European conflict or invasion remained, primarily from the Netherlands or France. Because Belgium had no noteworthy natural defense, it was opted not to defend the whole country, but to opt for a ‘National Redoubt’. For strategic, political and economic reasons the city of Antwerp was choosen to become that National Redoubt.

In 1859 the Belgian government decided to defend Antwerp by building a new rampart around the city, called the ‘Big Rampart’, after a plan of the military engineer Capt. Henri Alexis Brialmont. It consisted of 15 km long earthen rampart with 19 gates around the city.

It also had an advanced ring of 8, almost identical, brick forts. These forts, given the unimaginative names Fort 1 up until Fort 8, were built almost 2.5 km outside the city, at 2 km from each other. They had to protect the city from enemy fire. Every fort was about 30 hectares and consisted of a central reduit, caponiers, platforms and earthen walls for artillery, all surrounded by a wide moat.

Although building the rampart and forts was a massive and very expensive undertaking, it was finished in 1864. In 1907 the rampart and forts were modernized. The rampart was demolished in 1960. The forts are now more commonly known as the Brialmont Forts. All the forts, with the exception of Fort 1, are still in existence.

Its earthen walls, like that of Fort 8, are higher than at the other forts. Probably the groundwater level here is higher, which caused the moat had to be dug out to a deeper level producing more earth to build the walls. During WW II the German army occupied the fort and built several prison cells on the second floor of the central reduit.

At present the fort is a nature reserve and bat habitat. It can only be visited with a guided tour on special days. This makes that the fort feels more original than the other forts and has lot more atmosphere but is also in a worse preserved state. Recommended.

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