Mesen Castle

Mesen Castle

Belgian Castles

Mesen Castle

Mesen Castle, locally known as Kasteel van Mesen, lies in the center of the town of Lede, in the province of East Flanders in the Flemish region in Belgium.

Mesen Castle dates back to the 16th century. In 1566 the domain was the residence of the Bette family. In 1607 the domain was elevated to the status of of barony and in 1633 to marquisate.

In 1749 the castle was completely rebuilt, leaving no traces of its earlier form, by the French architect Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni for the 4th Marquess, Emmanuel de Bette. After 1796 the castle was used as industrial premises for various activities like a gin distillery, a sugar refinery, a tobacco factory and potash processing.

In 1897 Mesen Castle was acquired by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Augustine. They transformed the castle into a boarding school for girls. They added an extra wing and a chapel to the castle. During WW I the castle was used as a military hospital by the German forces.

After WW I, the boarding school was taken over by the Royal Institute of Mesen and became a female elite boarding school where French, behavior and high society life were taught. In 1971 the school was closed because the Flemish Government stipulated that all education in the Flemish region should be given in Dutch. After that the castle was abandoned and fell into disrepair. The following decades the empty castle slowly fell to ruin and became a famous location for urban exploration. Local government failed to protect the historical landmark and in 2010 the chapel and a wing were demolished under protest. Despite further protests the rest of the castle ruin followed in 2015, leaving only the shell of the main building. In 2016 the right wing of that building collapsed due to strong winds.

At present Mesen Castle is freely accessible. A nice but a bit sterile ruin. Search the internet for urban exploration pictures and movies that show what a beautiful ruin it once was.

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