's Gravensteen

's Gravensteen translates to the Castle of the Counts and sits along the river in Ghent, Belgium

Built in 1180 by the Count of Flanders, Philip of Alsace on the bank of the River Leie

Philip modeled his castle off the ones he saw during the Crusades in Syria and the Holy Land

Casey came down the chimney!

The princesses waiting at the window for their princes to come...

Finally, we found something taller than Alex - he's at 5'11" tall now and this sword actually dwarfs him!  It said on the sign that this is a sword you would have to use both hands with...

The castle has had many uses over the years - castle, prison, fortress, dungeon, place of execution, even the crypt was used as a torture chamber...  So now it houses a museum of medieval weaponry and a museum of instruments of torture!

We saw the weaponry first - the hilts of these swords are very ornate

Another quite long sword - this one said it has a serrated edge

Two full cases of pikes - any of these would really knock a knight down off his horse, and some would do much more than that!

Crossbows, very ornate, used for hunting birds it said

A Pocket Crossbow - just can't imagine keeping this in my pocket...

Then we moved on to extremely ornate rifles - the inlay on these was astounding. 

The early ones where wheel lock and then later came the flint lock mechanisms

Alex, Amanda, Philip, Casey

Some of the flint lock weapons - one even has an opening in the butt for your shells

And pistols too - interesting ball on the ends...

The views of Ghent from the castle are beautiful.  Little did we know that this market area would be the beginning and end of an important Ghent event of the day today - see Around Ghent for more!

We love the Lego houses in Belgium!  This bridge over the river is called Ondhoofdingbrug - which means...  Bridge of the Beheaded in honor of all the executions that took place in the castle and just outside it...

Looking out over Ghent

Getting closer to the museum of torture, we find a room dedicated to the guillotine - Alex, Amanda, and Casey have a look.

Amanda takes an even closer look - be careful kiddo!

And the basket for catching the heads...  We read that the blade in this guillotine is actually an original one used in medieval times here in Ghent, but the rest of the guillotine is replica.  Good to know that blade had been put to good use...

And now on to the museum of torture instruments...  This very uncomfortable looking bed would be used to strap one down to it and then they would put your food just out of your reach to the side of it...

This lovely mask must have been such a joy to wear...

And this device was used by the guards if the prisoners would riot - they would reach out to grab a disobedient prisoner around the neck with this (there are little sharp spikes on the inside of those arms that come down into it...) and since it is on a long pole it allowed the guard to stay back from the trouble...

And we didn't take pictures of the really gruesome stuff!

Now on to some cheerier parts of the castle...

This room is the council room - it is said that the Order of the Golden Fleece met here under the leadership of Philip the Good in 1445

Casey, Amanda, and Alex wait for the meeting to get under way

Views thru the arrow slits are always cool!

A catapult sits in the courtyard

This had been a room for torture, so we decided to give it some better memories - Casey, Alex, and Amanda

Casey and Sonya

This castle boasts a series of toilets and even has signs showing how they were designed...  So Casey decided to demonstrate.  Oddly, this toilet is located just off the front of a large meeting room and has no separation from that large room!

This is the room with that toilet - just up to the left of that cross...  A beautiful room outside of that!

On the parapets - Count Casey stands guard over her castle

The main castle building

Alex, Casey, Amanda

Casey, Sonya, Amanda


Alex, Casey, Amanda - we were having so much fun taking pictures up here by ourselves, then this lady came up and decided to go back down right away.  Guess we were having too much fun!

Time to leave the safety of the castle and venture out into the streets of Ghent...