This picturesque star fort is located in the small village of Bourtange, Groningen, the Netherlands. It was built in 1593 with the sole purpose of controlling the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen, which was controlled by Spain during the eighty years’ war. The final battle was in 1672, after which the fort served as the defensive network on the German border until giving up in 1851 and converting into a village. In present day, Fort Bourtange serves as an historical museum.
Admiring the beauty of the red and yellow brick homes. At one time these old homes housed 5 military garrisons. The public well still stands where it stood when it was first built. The fort had started to deteriorate over 100 years of poor upkeep, but was brought back to life in 1960 when the local government decided to restore it to the glory it once knew in the 1740-1750’s. Which is also when they made it into an historical museum. By doing this it also provided the surrounding village with tourism income.
The reason why Fort Bourtange has its star shape is because in the 15th century a new fortification style developed in Europe. The design had many triangular bastions (supports) that were specifically designed to cover each other and a wide ditch.
They made the defensive walls lower and thicker, protecting them by mounding and sloping earth gently over them concealing the walls almost completely from the artillery fire.
After crossing the access bridge, which takes you into Fort Bourtange, you will reach the defensive ravines. The drawbridges were created to hinder invaders from getting into the fort, as were the moats. The drawbridges at fort were separate from the gates. If the fort was being attacked and the invaders pressed to close to the drawbridge, it would have been easy enough for the defenders to move from the ravines to burn the bridge or blow it away with a well-aimed cannon shot or two. After the siege, it wouldn’t take much effort and materials to make a replacement.
The small community that lives in and around Fort Bourtange today is about 430 people in total, they cater to the visitors’ needs with friendly hotels, pleasant cafés and an abundance of related activities in summer. All of your needs are met inside the fort. You can park at the entrance and walk everywhere. It’s small and charming. There are large carriages that are available to carry you through the fort or you could ride the tourist bus.
There is a re-enactment of the Battle of Bourtange held in June, which runs for two days.
There are two restaurants within the wall of the fort and it is possible to stay the night if you choose to. Most vacationers just go for a day trip but if you chose to stay the night make sure you reserve you room in advance space is very limited.