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-Renaissance and Rococo, among others. Couwelaar Castle is a historical monument.
The first mentions of a Couwelaar estate date to the beginning of the 15th century: in 1402 it is recorded as belonging to Pieter van Immerseel. It later passed to Pieter de Francques, a merchant from Antwerp, and then to his son Raphaël. In 1584, Couwelaar was sold in the Vrijdagmarkt. In any event, in 1606 it was owned by Gilles Du Mont, a cloth merchant who had also recently acquired the nearby castle of Bisschoppenhof. The Du Monts significantly improved the castle by adding six towers and laying out gardens and fish ponds.
Couwelaar changed hands several times in the following years. Pedro de Man, a former schepen (alderman) of Antwerp, had the castle thoroughly restored in 1766, in classical style. Four of the towers were in poor repair and were demolished and a new moat, among other things, was added. In 1848, a pleasure garden in the style of the Italian Neo-Renaissance was commissioned by John della Faille de Leverghem and his wife, who had purchased the castle two years earlier. They also had the castle itself renovated in the style of the Flemish Neo-Renaissance.
The real estate company Crédit Foncier d'Anvers acquired the castle in 1913 and had the moats filled in. In 1927, the castle ultimately became the property of the municipality, which until 1970 used it for administrative services and as a workshop and storage. Repairs were carried out in 1986–88, particularly to the towers and roofs. In the early 21st century the castle was sold to a group of new owners who pledged to restore it without impairing its historic character, and it has been divided into five cohousing apartments.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.