Ter Elst Castle, locally known as Kasteel Ter Elst, lies on an islet in a public park in the village of Duffel, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium.
The history of Ter Elst Castle reaches back to the 12th century. It was then owned by the Hildinckhusen brothers, the oldest known lords of Duffel.
From 1356 until the French revolution the castle was owned by the Abbey of Tongerlo. The abbots turned the castle into a beautiful estate and some important guests were entertained here, like Margaretha of York on several occasions between 1477 and 1503 and her lover Filips the Beautiful, Duke of Burgundy. The latter asked the Abbey to sell the castle to him because he liked it so much, but the abbots refused.
Part of the castle was burned down in 1584. But the castle was rebuilt in an even more beautiful manor. The French revolutionaries confiscated and pillaged the castle at the end of the 18th century.
In 1799 the castle was sold to Louis Hermans, a lawyer from Antwerp. He tore down three of the four wings of the castle complex and restored the remaining wing with its towers.
A final blow to the castle came with the battle of the Nete during WW I. After the war governor Baron Holvoet wanted to buy the castle to rebuild it and to turn it into a city hall. This was however rejected by the city council. So the castle stayed empty and fell to ruin over the years.
The ruins were bought by the city council in the 1970’s and partially restored in their previous glory. In 1982 the ruins of Ter Elst Castle were opened to the public.
Ter Elst Castle is a very nice castle. When I visited the castle the castle grounds were closed, alas, so I could only walk around the moat.