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Black Tower (Brussels)

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Dec 16, 2021

The Black Tower (French: Tour Noire, Dutch: Zwarte Toren) is a medieval tower in Brussels, Belgium. It is one of the best conserved remains of the first fortifications of Brussels, built at the start of the 13th century. It is located behind St. Catherine’s Church on Rue de la Vierge Noire/Zwarte Maagdstraat.[1] This site is served by the metro stations Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne and De Brouckère on lines 1 and 5 of the Brussels metro.

Black Tower
Tour Noire/Zwarte Toren
Part of First City Walls of Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

The Black Tower, behind St. Catherine’s Church, in central Brussels
Type City gate
Site history
Built 13th century
Materials Stone

The Black Tower is notable for being one single medieval tower surrounded by modern-day buildings. This odd sight has made it a popular tourist destination.[2]

. . . Black Tower (Brussels) . . .

The Black Tower was built in the early 13th century as part of the first fortifications of Brussels. When the city’s second fortifications were built at the end of the 14th century, its original function became obsolete. Historians believe it had by then become private property. This would explain why it survived so many centuries unharmed.[3]

In the 16th century, unlike other sections of the wall, the tower survived the creation of a new dock for the inland port of Brussels on the site where St. Catherine’s Church is now located.[4] Around the same time, it was transformed into a tavern named In the Tower. In 1888, when the entire street was sanitised, then-mayorCharles Buls saved the tower from demolition.[5] Architect Victor Jamaer restored the building and reconstructed the gable and the roof, as well as the bent radius.[6] In the 19th century, it was surrounded by a clothing store.

On 1 February 1937, it officially became a state’s building and was classified as a historical monument.[7] Nowadays it is surrounded by a hotel with modern-day supplies.[8] A plaque reminds passers-by of its historical importance.[9]

The tower is subject of an album in the Belgian comic book series The Adventures of Nero by Marc Sleen.[10] In the story De Zwarte Toren (“The Black Tower”) (1983) Nero visits Brussels and discovers mysterious things going on in the Black Tower.[11] Based on this story the proprietors of the Marc Sleen Museum made it part of a special Nero route, which takes visitors to several parts of Brussels that play an important role in certain Nero albums.[12]

  • Fortifications of Brussels
  • Anneessens Tower, another part of the 13th-century city wall in Brussels.
  • Tower of De Villers, also named “Tower of Saint-Jacques”, another tower in the 13th-century city wall protecting Brussels.
  1. “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2016-04-24. Retrieved 2016-04-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2016-04-24. Retrieved 2016-04-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. “Le Patrimoine monumental de la Belgique”, Bruxelles, volume 1C, Pentagone N-Z, Pierre Mardaga éditeur, 1994, p. 329.
  4. “The Black Tower”.
  5. “Le Patrimoine monumental de la Belgique”, Bruxelles, volume 1C, Pentagone N-Z, Pierre Mardaga éditeur, 1994, p. 329.
  6. “Le Patrimoine monumental de la Belgique”, Bruxelles, volume 1C, Pentagone N-Z, Pierre Mardaga éditeur, 1994, p. 329.
  7. “Le Patrimoine monumental de la Belgique”, Bruxelles, volume 1C, Pentagone N-Z, Pierre Mardaga éditeur, 1994, p. 329.
  8. “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2016-04-24. Retrieved 2016-04-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. “Black tower”.
  10. “Nero 85 de zwarte toren – stripinfo.be”.
  11. http://www.marc-sleen.be/fichiers/nerowandeling.pdfArchived 2015-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, page 18.
  12. “Brussel krijgt Nerowandeling”. 5 October 2011.

. . . Black Tower (Brussels) . . .

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. . . Black Tower (Brussels) . . .