Gravensteen was built in 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace. The castle, which was originally a wooden structure, was rebuilt as a stone castle when wood was inadequate and the use of stone became widespread.
Gravensteen, which means Castle of the Counts, was initially used as a manor house, but later as a prison where judicial punishments were given and criminals were held. The castle, which was in danger of collapse because it reminded of bad times, was restored and kept as a reminder of the injustices of the past.
In the museum rooms of the castle, various tools used in the castle and wars are exhibited. One of these rooms is the Weapon Museum. You can see all kinds of weapons used in the Middle Ages in the Weapon Museum. It is possible to see everything from spears, bows, swords to firearms.
In one of the museum rooms we also find instruments of forensic punishment and torture. In the late 12th century Ghent was given administrative and political power. But in criminal law, no one could be punished without confessing their guilt. In order to get them to confess, they were tortured secretly and inhumanely, and horrible methods were used.
Torture had an important place in the castle. The criminal who was to be executed was tortured to death. French inventor Joseph Ignace Guillotin, who wanted to prevent this, invented the guillotine, which was named after him, towards the end of the 18th century and ensured that criminals were executed with less pain. With the invention of the guillotine, torture was gradually eliminated.
You can also see an original guillotine iron in the museum. Shackles, handcuffs, torture wheels, hammers for breaking fingers, iron rods for branding backs with fire and many other torture equipment can be seen in the museum. Among the torture methods, the scene of pouring water through a funnel in the mouth of someone lying on a table is reenacted with inanimate mannequins.
While visiting the rooms, if you read the purpose of the rooms, you can understand the castle better and reveal the function of the rooms rather than just being a room. Apart from the museum and the castle walls, you can also enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of Ghent, although not from a great height.
What are the entrance fee and visiting hours at Gravensteen?
Gravensteen Castle entrance is paid, youth discount is available. If you have a CityCard Gent card, you can enter for free.
Where is Gravensteen? How to get there?
If you prefer to take the bus to Gravensteen, you can get off at Korenmarkt stop with buses numbered 3, 17, 18, 38 and 39 and walk a bit. If you want to go by tram, you can take trams numbered 1 and 4 to the front of the castle, and the name of the stop where you will get off is Gravensteen.