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Gravenwezel Castle

Belgian Castles

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Gravenwezel Castle, locally known as Kasteel ‘s-Gravenwezel, lies east of the village with the same name, just north-east of the city of Antwerp, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The builder of the first castle at this site isn’t known. But the castle was built as part of a line of defense around the city of Antwerp.

In the early Middle Ages ‘s-Gravenwezel fell, as a fief, under the rule of the land of Breda. In 1287 it became the property of the knight Gerard van Wezemaal. The oldest known vassal of Gravenwezel was Walterus, Count of Wesele, who was mentioned in 1312. During the 14th and 15th century ownership changed hands several times and the oldest parts of the castle date back to these times. In 1495 the castle was bought by Jan de Glymes, Lord of Bergen op Zoom. The March of Bergen op Zoom kept ownership until 1561.

The most important period for the castle began when it was bought by the Van Susteren family in the 18th century. From 1740 on, the castle was rebuilt as a contemporary country mansion by the Antwerp architect JP. van Baurscheit. The former closed courtyard was torn down and replaced by a terrace from which a stone bridge led to the surrounding park. Another bridge was built on the east side of the terrace to connect the U-shaped bailey. The architect kept the original medieval castle intact but focused completely on rebuilding the south facade of the castle.

In 1774 the castle came into the possession of the widow Isabella Vecquemans de la Vère, who completed the rebuilding of the castle’s exterior and redecorated the interior. Through hereditary succession the castle came into the hands of the barons Gillès de Pélichy, who would be mayors of the neighboring village from 1830 till 1929.

In 1983 the last baroness Gillês de Pélichy died and her heirs decided to sell the castle. So, in 1984 the castle was bought by the Antwerp art and antique dealer and collector Axel Vervoordt. He uses the castle for exhibitions and as his residence. He has entertained lots of famous people in this castle such as members of the Belgian and Dutch royal families as well as the pop star Sting.

Mr. Vervoordt used to open his castle to the public two times a year. When I visited I was stunned by the beautiful interiors in the castle, really a must-see. Alas, it was not permitted to take pictures inside the castle due to insurance terms. At present this castle residence can not be visited.

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