Arenberg Castle

Leuven, Belgium

The Arenberg site had been the castle of the lords of Heverlee since the 12th century, but this family became impoverished and had to sell the site in 1445 to the Croÿ family from Picardy. Antoon van Croy demolished the medieval castle and started works to build the current château in 1455 on the site, of which he destroyed all but one tower. Willem van Croÿ completed the works on the château in 1515, and founded a monastery on the château grounds for the Benedictine Celestines. The architectural style is in large part traditionally Flemish, with sandstone window frames and brick walls, though it has been structurally altered since 1515 and has elements of Gothic, Renaissance and Neo Gothic architecture. Its large corner towers are typical, once surmounted by a German eagle.

Charles III of Croy was the 4th and last duke, and after his death in 1612 without issue the château passed to the Arenberg family into which his sister had married, and remained in that family until the First World War.

During the First World War, the château and grounds were occupied by the Germans and Austrians. The château and park were seized by the Belgian government on the outbreak of, and then after the war since the Arenberg family was considered to be German or Austrian due to their close Habsburg connection, monarchs of Austria-Hungary. It took until 1921 for the University to acquire them, becoming an expanded natural sciences and engineering campus in the style of that of an American university. After the partitioning of the university along language lines in 1968, the château and grounds remained with the Dutch speaking half as one of the main campuses for the new, independent Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The château itself is the main building of the Faculty of Engineering and houses lecture rooms and studios for the Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Urban Planning, including the Post-Graduate Centre Human Settlements and the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation. The building is open to the public. The former Celestine monastery on the château grounds now houses the campus library, and the addresses of many of the science buildings are on the street named Celestijnenlaan (Dutch for 'Celestine Street').

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Founded: 1455
Category: Castles and fortifications in Belgium

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pihu K (2 months ago)
Wonderful castle and very well maintained. The entry inside the castle was organised by university colleagues.
Patrick Vander Maelen (8 months ago)
Superb surroundings and views, beautiful historical building. Nice gardens. Inside of the castle only 4 rooms to visit (guided tour mandatory because building is still on use for the architecture school of the University), with only paintings of the 2 historical owners families. No added value at all. Go and see the outside and the gardens.
Holly Funk (8 months ago)
Absolutely gorgeous grounds and a beautifully maintained castle! I happened upon Arenberg Castle not knowing anything about it (was just blindly doing a walking tour adventure of Leuven) and was delighted when I found it! The university also uses these grounds so you can see students hanging out all over (watch out for the bikers all over, like the rest of Leuven).
Padmavati Gopalan (16 months ago)
Beautiful place with lots of greenery to walk around. The landscape is huge and offers a relaxing atmosphere.
Phillip Jaisut (2 years ago)
Arenberg kasteel is definitely a place I recommend to day travel to - or just drive pass and make a stop there. In front of the castle is a beautiful park in which a lot of people picnic. The whole area of the castle is a university campus and even the castle is used for lectures etc.. U can go into the castle and look into the lecture rooms and some projectrooms (not sure if thats allowed! but it was possible...) Definitely recommend!! Beautiful place to visit for a couple hours
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