Ham-sur-Heure Castle was first mentioned in the 13th century when it passed, through marriage, to the Condé family. In the 15th century the castle was owned by the d'Enghien family. In 1487, when the last family member died without heirs, the castle went to the De Merode family.
In 1540 the castle was visited by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Around this time the castle was probably enlarged and strengthened.
In 1667, under Ferdinand de Merode, the castle was badly damaged and the keep was destroyed when it was sieged, without success, by French armies. Between 1669 and 1671 a protective rubble wall was built. But in 1689 the castle was again besieged by French armies. This time, even though there was strong resistance from a Spanish garrison based in the castle, Albert Maximilian, son of Ferdinand, was forced to surrender. The castle was partly destroyed.At the beginning of the 18th century the old castle was transformed into a luxurious residence by Joseph de Merode. Between 1776 and 1779 the castle was again rebuilt by Balthazar-Philippe, who would be the last Count de Merode-Deynse. The rebuilding was never completed and Balthazar left the castle and moved to Vienna because of the French Revolution. The next 70 years the castle was uninhabited and stood virtually abandoned.
At the end of the 19th century the ruined castle was rebuilt by Louise de Rochechouart Mortemart and her daughter, Renée Victurienne de Merode, the wife of Charles-Jean d'Oultremont. This rebuilding, which lasted more than 20 years, drastically transformed the building and gave it its present appearance.During WW I Ham-sur-Heure Castle was visited by several distinguished guests including the son of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II. From December 1918 to January 1919, Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales, also stayed at the castle, while visiting the General Headquarters of the Australian Army Corps which were based at the castle.
In 1956 the castle was bought by the municipality. At present Ham-sur-Heure Castle is used as the town hall.References:
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped theater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. It lasted intact until it was destroyed and left in ruins by the Heruli in 267 AD.
The audience stands and the orchestra (stage) were restored using Pentelic marble in the 1950s. Since then it has been the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year, featuring a variety of acclaimed Greek as well as International performances.