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').References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.