The first Smedenpoort was built between 1297 and 1299. The current Smedenpoort was built on the remains of that first Smedenpoort.
Throughout the centuries, many changes were made to the tower. The bronze skull above the left passage commemorates the execution of François Vander Straeten, who wanted to lead hostile French troops into the city at the end of the 17th century. His severed head then served as a decoration on the city gate.