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Demolition reveals 13th century city walls

10:51 30/10/2013

Demolition work being carried out on a site at the corner of Rue Royale and Treurenberg in central Brussels has uncovered traces of the city walls dating from the 13th century, according to historian and Brussels member of parliament Paul De Ridder.

The demolition site backs onto the house of the deacon of the cathedral of St Michel and St Gudule, which stands in the Rue du Bois Sauvage, and where part of the 13th century wall was previously discovered.

The first fortification of Brussels took place in the 13th century under Henry I, the first Duke of Brabant. The works consisted of seven main gates and five smaller entrances, as well as some 40 towers, each about 50m from the next, encompassing an area from the Saint Géry quarter to the ducal palace on Coudenberg. Only traces remain, including a section in the Rue de Villers (photo).

The city soon outgrew its walls, however, and a second set of fortifications was built between 1356 and 1383. The most important remaining vestige of that set of fortifications is the Porte de Hal, although the names of other city gates remain: Porte de Namur, Porte de Ninove etc.

Written by Alan Hope