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:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.