Medieval castles in Belgium

Poeke Castle

Poeke Castle was built in 1875 to the site of older castle. Standing in 56 hectares (140 acres) of park, it is surrounded by water and is accessible through bridges at the front and rear of the building. It is unknown when the first fortification was constructed at Poeke, but references to it appear from 1139 onwards. The castle played a prominent role during the conflict between Count Louis II of Flanders and the city o ...
Founded: 1452/1875 | Location: Aalter, Belgium

Renesse Castle

Willem van Berchem built the first Renesse Castle at Malle between 1431 and 1464. Nothing remains of this original castle, and the only remaining visible vestiges are the donjon which now is the articulation point of the castle and the so-called tournament beam which is now placed above the fireplace in the knight room. In 1459 his daughter Elisabeth married Wouter van Hamal, who thereby inherited the Oostmalle domain, an ...
Founded: 1431/1545 | Location: Malle, Belgium

Elewijt Castle

Elewijt Castle originates from the 11th century when there was a wooden fortification. The stone castle was erected around 1300. The castle is also known as Rubenskasteel because it was owned by Peter Paul Rubens from 1635 to his death in 1640, and features in some of his paintings. In 1792 the castle was converted into a state prison. The castle is now privately owned and not open to the public.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Elewijt, Belgium

Borrekens Castle

Borrekens Castle was built around 1270 by a member of the Van Rotselaar family who were stewards of the Dukes of Brabant. They built this square water castle in a swampy area, close to the road Antwerp-Turnhout which was probably a part of the trade route to Cologne in Germany. It is built out of white Vilvoorde sandstone. The castle stayed in the hands of the Van Rotselaar family until the beginning of the 16th century. ...
Founded: 1270 | Location: Vorselaar, Belgium

Jemeppe Castle

Jemeppe Castle is located in Hargimont, now part of the municipality of Marche-en-Famenne. It is known that during the Roman era a fortified villa was established in the region. The present castle is however of medieval origin. In the Middle Ages the manor of Jemeppe consisted of only a few buildings, surrounded by marshland and the river Hedrée. These offered little protection against the ruling families of Namur ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium

Kruikenburg Castle

Kruikenburg Castle is a listed building in the village of Ternat. It was the seat of the lordship of Kruikenburg, which included the villages of Ternat, Sint-Katarina-Lombeek and Wambeek. A medieval foundation, the castle was extensively remodelled in the 16th and 18th centuries, giving it its current appearance. In 1662 the lord of Kruikenburg was elevated to the title of count. In the 20th century the castle became a ho ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ternat, Belgium

Hauteroche Castle Ruins

Hauteroche ('High Rock') is a ruined 14th-century castle, destroyed after a siege in 1554, in the village of Dourbes in the municipality of Viroinval, province of Namur. It is situated on a ca. 50 meters high, rocky promontory, looking out over the valley of the Viroin river. The isolated site of the castle is separated from the plateau by a large, hand cut ditch. It has a square keep with 2.5 meter thick ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Viroinval, Belgium

Male Castle

Male Castle was almost entirely rebuilt and restored after the destruction of World War II. It has housed St. Trudo"s Abbey since 1954. The castle"s origins date back to the 9th century, as a defensive tower for protection of the territory around Bruges against the Vikings. Male was held by Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders, between 1168 and 1191, who replaced the wooden structure with one built of stone, whi ...
Founded: c. 1166 | Location: Bruges, Belgium

Couwelaar Castle

Couwelaar Castle, also known as De Drie Torekens (The Three Turrets) is L-shaped and consists of a main building with wings, as well as several outbuildings including a coach house. The main building is characterized by two round towers at the front and a built-in, square tower at the rear. Over the centuries, the castle has been extensively altered and restored several times and has stylistic elements of the Neo-Renaissa ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Gruitrode Castle

Gruitrode Castle was built on the site of earlier castle between 1485-1568. The earlier buildings were destroyed in 1485 in a conflict between Marck and Arenberg families. The remains of older castle are today in the courtyard of the current castle. Until the Napoleonic era it remained in the possession of the Knights of the German Order, who continually expanded the property.
Founded: 1485 | Location: Meeuwen-Gruitrode, Belgium

Leefdaal Castle

Leefdaal castle was mentioned first in the 12th century, but the present appearance dates from the late Middle Ages and 17th century. The castle is not open to the public.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bertem, Belgium

Steinbach Castle

The foundations and the basement of the Steinbach castle date back to the 11th century and are built with schist stone. The stone carved escutcheon built into the façade of the castle contains three scallops referring to Steinbach and Limerlé, and three sickles referring to Grumelscheid. The Steinbach family and dynasty became lords of Rouvroy and Limerlé in 1451 and will keep this title and rule the region until the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Gouvy, Belgium

Corroy-le-Château Castle

Castle of Corroy-le-Château was built between 1220 and 1230 by William of Brabant, the castle is one of the best-preserved medieval buildings in Belgium, with gigantic round towers and a moat. After some eight hundred years in the possession of the descendants of William of Brabant, the counts of Nassau-Corroy. One of the owners was Alexis of Nassau-Corroy, bastard son of Henry III of Nassau-Breda. His descendant Joseph ...
Founded: 1220-1230 | Location: Gembloux, Belgium

Heers Castle

Heers Castle built in the 13th century. Of its many owners, among the most notorious was Raes van Heers (1418–77), who was defeated and driven into exile by Charles the Bold at the Battle of Brustem in 1467. The castle, and the town of Heers, were laid waste by Charles"s troops, although the castle was eventually repaired after Raes" death by his widow. The family de Rivière d"Arschot lived here until ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Heers, Belgium

Rivieren Castle

Rivieren Castle was originally a defence tower and the present-day castle was build in different phases from the 12th to the 19th century. Originally a possession of the Clutinck family, the castle later changed ownership several times until it finally was sold in 1973. Today, the castle is used for conferences, receptions, expositions and similar kinds of events.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Bossenstein Castle

The oldest part of the present Bossenstein Castle is the square keep, probably built before the 14th century by a Joannes van Busco or Van den Bossche. Not much later it went to the Van Berchem family. They are supposed to have made some major alterations to the castle. They sold it in 1544 to Guilelmus van der Rijt, who was a member of the city council of nearby Antwerp. In the deed of sale the castle was described as an ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ranst, Belgium

Rameyen Castle

The first known owner of Rameyen castle in Gestel was Jan II Berthout who lived in the castle in 1303. The oldest part of the castle is the square keep. This heavy tower dates back to the 13th century. The keep was fitted with cannon holes in the 16th century. A beautiful castle was built around the keep by Van Immerseele and de Cock families. Boudewijn de Cock sold the castle in 1643 to Nicolaas Rubens, the second son o ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gestel, Belgium

Opprebais Castle

Opprebais Castle was built in the first half of the 13th century or maybe at the end of the 12th century probably by a local noble family. It is a square castle with round corner towers. In 1486, the seigniory was sold to Jean de Glimes. It remained in the hands of his descendants until 1660 when the castle was sold to the Dukes of Arenberg. In the 17th century a farm was built inside its walls.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Incourt, Belgium

Humbeek Castle

Humbeek Castle oldest parts date from the 15th and 16th centuries (origins date back to the 14th century). It was badly damaged in the war in late 1500s and restored in the 1600s. The current appearance dates from the 19th century. Humbeek castle is privately owned.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Humbeek, Belgium

Fagnolle Castle Ruins

Fagnolle Castle was formerly the centre of government of the small independent Barony, later County, of Fagnolle. It was constructed in the 12th century, and is now ruined.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Philippeville, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.