Fort Liefkenshoek, also known as Fort Kallo, is a star-shaped structure that was built in the 16th century and played an important role in the battle for Antwerp. It is on the bank of the Scheldt River and offers a unique view of the industrial harbor and the nature reserve. Fort Liefkenshoek has a museum and an experience center that are free to visit. The museum has 12 rooms that cover various topics and periods, such as the fort's role in the war, the life and work of the soldiers and civilians, the evolution of the landscape and the industry, and nature and the environment, while the experience center has interactive games and exhibits that are suitable for children and adults. Visitors can also join a guided tour of the fort, which is available from May to September and is also free of charge. The best time to visit Fort Liefkenshoek is from March to August, when the weather is mild and sunny. Visitors can also enjoy the outdoor attractions of the fort, such as the watchtower, the moat, the dike, and the nature reserve. Visitors can easily reach the fort by car, bus, or bike and visit other nearby attractions, such as Fort Lillo, Doel, and Antwerp.
- What does WonderfulWanderings think about Fort Liefkenshoek?
- What is Fort Liefkenshoek?
- Where is Fort Liefkenshoek?
- What is the history of Fort Liefkenshoek?
- What are the visiting hours of Fort Liefkenshoek?
- When is the Best Time to Visit Fort Liefkenshoek?
- How much is the Entrance Fee for Fort Liefkenshoek?
- How do you get to Fort Liefkenshoek?
- What do visitors say about Fort Liefkenshoek?
- Is it worth it to visit Fort Liefkenshoek?
- What are the most popular forts and castles in Belgium?
What does WonderfulWanderings think about Fort Liefkenshoek?
I visited Fort Liefkenshoek this past Monday, November 6, 2023. The fortress dates back to the 16th century when it was built to protect the city and port of Antwerp. It was one of the oldest forts in Flanders. Together with Fort Lillo on the other side of the Scheldt River, it played an important role in controlling ship traffic along the river. During my visit, I toured the visitor center to learn more about the history of the fort and its surroundings. I walked around on top of the fortifications, which offered great views of the area. There were some interactive activities and simulations in the bunkers for both kids and adults. One let you load virtual cargo containers onto ships. The restaurant on site had good food and drink options. When your visit is over, you can grab a drink at the on-site tavern, where they serve the local beer Bonàpart. It's the only place where you can get it!
What is Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek is a fort and a museum near the village of Kallo in Belgium. It is also called Fort Kallo after the nearby village. Fort Liefkenshoek was built in the late 16th century to protect Antwerp from the Spanish troops led by Alexander Farnese. It was part of a pair of forts, along with Fort Lillo on the opposite bank, that could control and block the shipping traffic on the river. Fort Liefkenshoek changed hands many times, besieged and occupied by different countries, such as the Netherlands, France, Austria, and Belgium. It was part of the Staats-Spaanse Linies, a military defense network that spanned the Tachtigjarige Oorlog to the French period. Its oldest building dates back to the Napoleonic era (1810-1811).
Fort Liefkenshoek is recognized as a European Special Protection Area for its ecosystem. It is a free visitor and experience center that tells the story of the human struggle against the water, from floods and polders to fishing and industry. Visitors can learn about the history of the fort and the stories of its inhabitants through interactive games and tasks while enjoying the views of the river, the surrounding nature, and the cozy brasserie on the site. It also offers a digital tour with an iPod and an app that guides the visitors through the fort with fun challenges.
Where is Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek is located on the left bank of the Scheldt River, close to the city and port of Antwerp. It is on Ketenislaan, a road that runs parallel to the Scheldt River. It is near the hamlet of Fort Lillo and the village of Doel and is 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the center of Antwerp and 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital of Brussels. It is also close to the Liefkenshoektunnel (R2), a toll tunnel that connects the left and right banks of the Scheldt River.
Fort Liefkenshoek is not accessible by public transport, but it is close to the Liefkenshoektunnel (R2) for car drivers. It can also be reached by bike or boat through a train to Beveren station, then take a bus to Kallo, and then walk or bike to the fort, or a ferry from Antwerp to Lillo and then by bike to the fort. There are also guided tours that include transportation to the fort.
When was Fort Liefkenshoek Opened to the Public?
Fort Liefkenshoek has been open to the public since May 1, 2011. It was previously used as a military site, a quarantine station, a prison, and a school. It was also a protected monument since 1976, but it was not accessible to visitors until the renovation project was completed. The renovation project of Fort Liefkenshoek started in 2012 and lasted for 11 years. It involved several phases, such as the construction of a new Horeca point, a new pedestrian bridge, an expanded parking lot, and the restoration of the outer wall. It also included the installation of interactive exhibits, games, and tasks that tell the story of the fort and the region, which was funded by the municipality of Beveren, the Flemish government, and the Maatschappij Linkerscheldeoever.
What is the history of Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek was built in 1579 by the city of Antwerp to defend the Scheldt River access during the Dutch Revolt against Spain. It was part of a pair of forts, along with Fort Lillo on the opposite bank, that could control and block the shipping traffic on the river. It was named after Liefken, a girl who Spanish soldiers killed in the nearby village of Kallo.
Fort Liefkenshoek was captured by Spanish forces in 1584 during the beginning of the siege of Antwerp. The Spanish commander, Alexander Farnese, used the fort as his headquarters and as a base to launch attacks on the Dutch fleet. It remained under Spanish control until 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Eighty Years' War and recognized the independence of the Dutch Republic.
Fort Liefkenshoek changed leadership several times in the following centuries, as it was involved in various wars and conflicts. It was occupied by the French in 1672, by the Dutch in 1703, by the Austrians in 1715, by the French again in 1746, by the Dutch again in 1814, and by the Belgians in 1830. It was also part of the Staats-Spaanse Linies, a military defense network that spanned from the Eighty Years' War to the French period. Its oldest buildings date back to the Napoleonic era (1810-1811).
Fort Liefkenshoek was used for different purposes in the 19th and 20th centuries. It served as a quarantine station for emigrants bound for the United States, as a prison for political prisoners during the Belgian Revolution, as a school for the children of the fort's staff, and as a vacation center for military families. It was also affected by the First and Second World Wars, as it was bombed by German planes and surrounded by bunkers and anti-aircraft guns.
Fort Liefkenshoek was declared a protected monument in 1976, but it was not accessible for visitors until 2011, when it was transformed into a museum and an experience center. Its museum tells the story of the fort and the region through interactive exhibits, games, and tasks, while the experience center focuses on the human struggle against the water, from floods and polders to fishing and industry.
What are the visiting hours of Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek is open from 10:00 to 18:00 on April 1 to September 30, while from October 1 to March 31, it is open from 10:00 to 17:00. The entrance to Fort Liefkenshoek is free, along with free guided tours from May to September.
Fort Liefkenshoek has a cozy brasserie on the site, where visitors can enjoy a drink or a meal. The brasserie serves the local beer Bonàpart, which is the only place where visitors can get. It is open from 10:00 to 22:00 from Wednesday to Sunday and on holidays.
When is the Best Time to Visit Fort Liefkenshoek?
The best time to visit Fort Liefkenshoek is from March to August. During this period, the weather is mild and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from 10 ℃ (50 ℉) in March to 18 ℃ (64 ℉) in August. The rainfall is also moderate, with an average of 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) per month, making it a great time to enjoy the outdoor attractions of the fort, such as the watchtower, the moat, the dike, and the nature reserve.
Is it safe to visit Fort Liefkenshoek?
Yes, it is safe to visit Fort Liefkenshoek. Fort Liefkenshoek is well-maintained and monitored by authorities. During daylight hours, it is safe for tourists to walk around the fort grounds and explore the historic site, however, at night, it is important to be aware of the surroundings and take normal security precautions as the area can be poorly lit and isolated.
How much is the Entrance Fee for Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek is free to visit, and there is no entrance fee required to enter the fort. Visitors can freely explore the museum, which has 12 rooms that showcase the history and culture of the fort and the region from the 16th century to the present day, or enjoy the interactive games and exhibits that are suitable for children and adults in the experience center. Visitors can also join a guided tour of the fort, which is available from May to September and is also free of charge.
How long can you stay in Fort Liefkenshoek?
There are no restrictions on how long one can stay in Fort Liefkenshoek. It is open to the public from 09:30 to 17:00 on Wednesday to Sunday, and it is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
How long is the typical visit time in Fort Liefkenshoek?
The typical visit to Fort Liefkenshoek lasts between 1 to 2 hours, which allows enough time to leisurely tour the maritime museum inside the fort, learn about its history, and see artifacts from its use defending Antwerp. Visitors can also walk atop the fort's walls and climb up the towers to take in scenic views over the expansive port.
How do you get to Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek can be reached by car, bus, or bike. Firstly, Visitors can drive to Fort Liefkenshoek from Antwerp by taking the A12 motorway and the N49 expressway, then follow the signs for Kallo until reaching Fort Liefkenshoek. Visitors can park their cars for free at the fort's parking lot, and the drive takes 30 minutes and covers 20 kilometers (12 miles). Secondly, visitors can also take the bus line 81 from Antwerp to Kallo and get off at the stop at Fort Liefkenshoek. The bus runs every hour from 06:00 to 22:00, except on Sundays and public holidays, when it runs every two hours. The bus ride takes 40 minutes and costs 3 € ($3.5, £2.5) per person. Visitors can buy their tickets online, at the bus station, or on the bus. Thirdly, visitors can bike to Fort Liefkenshoek from Antwerp by following the cycle route LF5, which runs along the Schelde River and passes by the fort. The bike route is well-marked and safe. The bike ride takes an hour and covers 20 kilometers (12 miles). Visitors can rent a bike in Antwerp at one of the many bike shops or stations. Lastly, during the summer months, a ferry service runs from the River Terrace in Antwerp. The ferry docks right at Fort Liefkenshoek, with sailing time taking 30 along the Scheldt River.
What are the house rules of Fort Liefkenshoek?
Listed below are the house rules of Fort Liefkenshoek:
- No Smoking: Smoking is prohibited inside the fort buildings and tunnels. Smoking areas are designated outside only to avoid fire risks and preserve historic structures. Smokers must use the specified outdoor areas.
- No Eating and drinking: Food and beverages may only be consumed in the designated picnic areas. Eating and drinking are not allowed inside exhibit halls and other interior spaces in order to keep the museum displays clean.
- Bicycles must be parked properly: Bicycles must be parked in the provided bicycle racks and storage areas. Bikes should not be ridden inside the fort or left lying in walkways and entrances where they pose tripping hazards.
- No climbing on or touching exhibit: Visitors must refrain from climbing on or touching exhibit displays unless explicitly permitted. The hands-on elements are marked.
- Parents must supervise children: Parents must supervise children at all times. Children cannot be left unattended or allowed to climb in unsafe areas to prevent injuries and damage.
- Pets are not allowed: Pets are not allowed inside the buildings or on the fort walls, with the exception of service animals. Pets must be leashed and under control in outdoor areas to reduce risks to displays and other visitors.
What do visitors say about Fort Liefkenshoek?
Fort Liefkenshoek receives many positive reviews from visitors. Visitors say the exhibit collections give great insights into how the port protected them strategically. The informative displays and recreations allow visitors to understand the living conditions of past soldiers stationed there. Reviewers often remark that they gained a new appreciation for Fort Liefkenshoek’s role in Antwerp's growth and security after touring the museum.
Visitors also commented that the sweeping views make it easy to comprehend the vast scale of industrial shipping activity happening every day. Watching the coming and going of massive container ships helps highlight why ports have long required defensive fortifications like Liefkenshoek.
Many visitors also comment positively on the well-preserved state of Fort Liefkenshoek. They noted that walking the historic brick walls and seeing old cannons gives a feel for what this stronghold was once like at its peak in the 1800s. Visitors say they get a sense of being transported back in time to when the fort was actively manned by soldiers.
In terms of logistics, reviewers say Fort Liefkenshoek is easy to access and navigate. Having parking available right on site makes it convenient for those arriving by car. Visitors also remark that the fort grounds and exhibits are compact enough to see in a relaxed half-day visit, with helpful signs providing directions and background information throughout.
Is it worth it to visit Fort Liefkenshoek?
Yes, Fort Liefkenshoek is worth visiting. Visitors can explore the museum and the experience center there, which have interactive games and exhibits that cover various topics and periods from the 16th century to the present day. Visitors can also enjoy the views of the river Scheldt and the industrial landscape from the fort and see the outdoor attractions, such as the watchtower, the moat, the dike, and the nature reserve.
Are there any guided tours to Fort Liefkenshoek?
Yes, there are guided tours to Fort Liefkenshoek, which are available from May to September. Visitors can book a tour online and join a guide who will show around the fort and tell about its history and culture. The tour lasts an hour and a half and covers both the indoor and the outdoor attractions of the fort. Visitors can also ask questions and interact with the guide, who is friendly and knowledgeable.
What are the most popular forts and castles in Belgium?
Listed below are the most popular forts and castles in Belgium.
- Fort Eben-Emael. Fort Eben-Emael, on the Belgian-Dutch border near Maastricht and Liège, reveals the largest underground fortress in Europe. The fortress spans 45 hectares and includes 17 bunkers connected by 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) of tunnels. Guided tours allow visitors to explore 90% of this vast complex and learn about the German strategies for the airborne assault on Eben-Emael at the start of World War II. The barracks and museum underground maintain heat, yet visitors should wear warm clothing due to the tunnel temperatures remaining at 11°C (52°F). Potential visitors must verify access options as wheelchair facilities are not extensive. Tours operate daily, excluding Mondays and certain closure days. Guests anticipate an exceptional experience.
- Fort de Loncin. Fort de Loncin, northwest of Liège, stands as a testament to the impact of German “Big Bertha” siege artillery in World War I. A direct hit in 1914 turned it into ruins, killing 350 of the 550 men inside. It now serves as a memorial with many remains still within. The museum offers an audio guide featuring soldiers' accounts. Visitors enter the corridors where difficult conditions led to surrender. Renovations have occurred, yet the structure's concrete and armaments were outclassed. Recreations of the bombardments honor the defenders' bravery and a large crater is visible. The site presents a sobering but important visit.
- Fort Breendonk. Fort Breendonk, between Mechelen and Antwerp, provides a stark examination of Belgium's 20th century history. The Nazi prison camp detained political prisoners and resistance members from 1940 to 1944. Guests enter through the main gate to view the cells where captives suffered and faced execution. The museum at the fort provides context for the events and offers education on the Holocaust. The visit, challenging due to the inhumanity displayed, imparts significant lessons. Visitors to Fort Breendonk are encouraged to consider the bravery of the resistors.
- Fort de Huy. Fort de Huy, perched on a promontory above the Meuse River, has guarded the strategic area since the early 1800s. The structure, resembling a pentagon, features limestone walls and internal buildings resembling a fortified town. Guests explore the ramparts for river valley views, visit the barracks and storerooms, and view the artillery, complete with gunpowder magazines. The museum chronicles Huy's military history from the Roman period. Visitors experience this hilltop defense structure and afterward, may visit downtown Huy for refreshments.
- Citadel of Namur. The Citadel of Namur, situated on a rocky spur above the Meuse, has protected the city for almost two thousand years. The stronghold maintains its medieval atmosphere, even after reconstruction by the French in the 1800s. Guided tours invite visitors into its passages to experience its long history. The labyrinth, reaching depths of 100 meters, features 3D shows that vividly present the citadel's role in both World Wars. The ramparts offer expansive views over the river valley. Artifacts discovered at the site fill the on-site museum. Guests are welcome to uncover the compelling legacy of this strategic location.
- Fort de Barchon. Fort de Barchon presents an audio and visual tour that echoes the atmosphere of 1914 Liège, showcasing an 1880s Belgian fortress. The tour leads visitors through quarters where sounds emulate the telephones and artillery of that era. Visible damage on the fortress reveals the impact of attacks, even after 1930s upgrades. The defenders managed to hold back German forces for almost a week, resulting in 2,000 enemy losses. Located northeast of Liège by the E40 highway, the fort offers a museum and a trail for education. Visitors can traverse the moat and inspect armored vehicles. This site offers an intricate view into early 20th century combat.
- Gravensteen Castle. Gravensteen Castle, also the “Castle of the Counts”, towers behind Ghent’s Graslei, reflecting the city’s medieval era. Established in 1180, the fortress now includes tours showcasing historical torture devices. The battlements provide visitors with views over the old town. Exhibits of arms, uniforms, and battle dioramas fill the museum, recounting Ghent’s history. An annual highlight is the reenactment of the “Battle of the Golden Spurs”. The castle invites guests to discover the historical narratives contained within its walls and beneath its towering presence.
- Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne. Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne in the Belgian Ardennes forest transports visitors to the Middle Ages. The site began as a 12th century keep before its reconstruction in Gothic style; its stone walls and towers bring to mind knights and chivalry. Guests explore rooms with period furnishings and ascend the spiral staircase to view the landscape from the ramparts. The Museum of Weaponry and Medieval Life, displaying armor, costumes, and warfare tools, also houses a guillotine. Visitors often walk in the oak forest. The experience appeals to history enthusiasts, providing a departure from contemporary life.
- Gaasbeek Castle. Gaasbeek Castle, originating around 1240, maintains its medieval appearance. Gaasbeek Castle welcomes guests to examine rooms with armor, Brussels tapestries, chandeliers, and historic furniture. The spiral stairs lead to ramparts offering views of the forested Demer valley. The entry gate stands above the former moat, and corner towers suggest a history of fortification. Guests visit for the medieval atmosphere. The museum and tearoom complement the experience.