Auto Draft

Ham Castle

Belgian Castles

Auto Draft

Ham Castle lies in the town of Steenokkerzeel, just north of Brussels, in the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The first stone fortification here actually stood on the site of the present bailey. The four corner towers of this present bailey are the remainders of this earlier castle, which was built in the 12th century. This castle was owned by the Van Hamme family between 1353 and 1473. Around 1500 Filip Hinckaert ordered the demolition of that castle.

He did this to replace it with the present Ham Castle built out of white sandstone. The castle has had many different owners. Its last owner was the De Croix family. Between 1929 and 1940 they let the castle out to an illustrious European family; the Von Habsburg family. From 1929 till 1939 the Austrian Empress Zita, widow of Karl I von Habsburg, Emperor of Austria, and her son Otto von Habsburg resided at the castle and entertained lots of European royalty here.

During WW II the castle was confiscated by the Germans which caused a lot of damage to the castle. The Germans also removed all the roofs and part of the top floor of the castle because of its proximity to the nearby international airport of Brussels; Zaventem.

After the war the castle was sold by the De Croix family to the Belgian state. A large restoration followed. The roofs however were not replaced because of the exact same reasons as why the Germans had removed them. The castle now serves as a site for conferences.

This is a peculiar looking castle and the mentioned airport is really nearby; you can see the control tower of the airport directly from the car park in front of the bailey and there are, almost constantly, planes flying over the castle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *