Male Castle was almost entirely rebuilt and restored after the destruction of World War II. It has housed St. Trudo's Abbey since 1954.
The castle's origins date back to the 9th century, as a defensive tower for protection of the territory around Bruges against the Vikings. Male was held by Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders, between 1168 and 1191, who replaced the wooden structure with one built of stone, which included a chapel consecrated by the exiled archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in 1166.
The castle was a residence of the Counts of Flanders (in 1329 it was the birthplace of Count Louis II, sometimes known as Louis of Male) but was also a stronghold in a much-disputed terrain. French forces occupied it. The city of Bruges retook it from its French garrison in the uprising of 1302. Soldiers from Ghent razed it in 1382 and after it had been rebuilt, ransacked it again in 1453. In 1473 it was burnt out and once again rebuilt: the present keep dates from that rebuilding, and stands with its foundations directly in the moat, now flanked by symmetrical wings. The castle was plundered yet again in 1490 by the forces of the Count of Nassau.
When Flanders became a part of the Burgundian Netherlands Male retained its importance. During the Spanish occupation of the Low Countries, the citadel was sold in 1558 by Philip II to Juan Lopez Gallo.
It was occupied by German troops in both world wars, and was severely damaged. The castle was comprehensively restored after World War II and since 1954 has accommodated St. Trudo's Abbey, a house of the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.