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Fort 5

Belgian Castles

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Fort 5 lies in the town of Edegem, 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.

Fort 5, likeĀ Fort 8, was also equipped with a battery aimed at the city, called a traditor battery, in case the fort was passed by the enemy. After WW II the fort was decommissioned; large parts were demolished and a large part of the moat was filled in.

At present the fort is part of a municipal park. Part of the outer fort is now a bat reserve and not accessible. The remaining buildings are used by a variety of local clubs. The central reduit is used as a location for coworking spaces and for cultural purposes; like a small festival which was taking place when I visited. A nice fort.

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