Sluis Castle

Sluis Castle is a former castle which was situated next to the town of the same name, in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands.

Sluis Castle was built around 1386 on the orders of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It was probably built after the Bastille in Paris, which had been completed just a couple of years before, by the French architect Drouet de Dammartin. When completed the castle was a formidable fortification; it had a rectangular plan with 36 rooms and was equipped with wallwalks, 16(!) towers and 2 gate buildings. Its dimensions were 86 by 80 m. Its walls were 15 m high, almost 4 m thick and equipped with loopholes. The towers were connected with one another by passages which were build into the thickness of the walls.

The castle was situated on the right bank of a former sea arm, called Zwin, which led from the sea up to the city of Bruges. As the sea arm was gradually silting up Sluis became the outport of Bruges. The castle served to protect this important port.

John the Fearless, who followed Philip as Duke of Burgundy, also had a 2nd castle built on the opposite bank of the Zwin in the beginning of the 15th century. This 2nd castle was smaller and called the "Tower of Burgundy". A chain which could be hung between both fortifications, could close the Zwin to enemy ships.

In 1537, during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the tower was demolished due to the improved firepower of cannon. Sluis Castle was also adapted; the eastern gate was closed off and both gate buildings were equipped with barbicans and earthen walls.

From 1566 Sluis Castle fell into disrepair and in 1587 came into Spanish hands. In 1604, during the Siege of Sluis, the castle was taken back by the troops of Maurice, Prince of Orange. The Spanish tried to recapture the castle several times, but without success.

During the 17th century the town and castle of Sluis were fortified by Menno van Coehoorn, the famous Dutch military engineer.

In the beginning of the 18th century the towers of the castle were partially torn down to make room for gun positions. The castle played an active military role during the War of the Austrian Succession from 1740 until 1748 when it was taken by the French. It was returned to the Dutch Republic a year later. The castle was turned into a ruin by cannon fire in 1794 during the French Siege of Sluis. Afterwards the French partially demolished it.

After the French had left in 1815, the remaining ruins of the castle were cleared in 1820 and its stones were used for strengthening the shores of the Western Scheldt river.

At present nothing remains of Sluis Castle but a small grassy elevation in the landscape, called 'castle hill', which is the site of the former courtyard.


Gallery

Sluis Castle

Sluis Castle is a former castle which was situated next to the town of the same name, in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands.

Sluis Castle was built around 1386 on the orders of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It was probably built after the Bastille in Paris, which had been completed just a couple of years before, by the French architect Drouet de Dammartin. When completed the castle was a formidable fortification; it had a rectangular plan with 36 rooms and was equipped with wallwalks, 16(!) towers and 2 gate buildings. Its dimensions were 86 by 80 m. Its walls were 15 m high, almost 4 m thick and equipped with loopholes. The towers were connected with one another by passages which were build into the thickness of the walls.

The castle was situated on the right bank of a former sea arm, called Zwin, which led from the sea up to the city of Bruges. As the sea arm was gradually silting up Sluis became the outport of Bruges. The castle served to protect this important port.

John the Fearless, who followed Philip as Duke of Burgundy, also had a 2nd castle built on the opposite bank of the Zwin in the beginning of the 15th century. This 2nd castle was smaller and called the "Tower of Burgundy". A chain which could be hung between both fortifications, could close the Zwin to enemy ships.

In 1537, during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the tower was demolished due to the improved firepower of cannon. Sluis Castle was also adapted; the eastern gate was closed off and both gate buildings were equipped with barbicans and earthen walls.

From 1566 Sluis Castle fell into disrepair and in 1587 came into Spanish hands. In 1604, during the Siege of Sluis, the castle was taken back by the troops of Maurice, Prince of Orange. The Spanish tried to recapture the castle several times, but without success.

During the 17th century the town and castle of Sluis were fortified by Menno van Coehoorn, the famous Dutch military engineer.

In the beginning of the 18th century the towers of the castle were partially torn down to make room for gun positions. The castle played an active military role during the War of the Austrian Succession from 1740 until 1748 when it was taken by the French. It was returned to the Dutch Republic a year later. The castle was turned into a ruin by cannon fire in 1794 during the French Siege of Sluis. Afterwards the French partially demolished it.

After the French had left in 1815, the remaining ruins of the castle were cleared in 1820 and its stones were used for strengthening the shores of the Western Scheldt river.

At present nothing remains of Sluis Castle but a small grassy elevation in the landscape, called 'castle hill', which is the site of the former courtyard.


Gallery