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Grimbergen Castle

Belgian Castles

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Grimbergen Castle lies in the town of Grimbergen, just north of Brussels, in the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish region in Belgium. It is more commonly known as “Prinsenkasteel”, which translates to the Prince’s castle.

The castle was the residence of the powerful medieval Lords of Grimbergen. Underneath the present ruins there are probably 13th century foundations. The oldest parts of the present castle ruins were built around 1500; they are the large gate tower, a smaller corner tower and part of the curtain wall.

Between 1610 and 1620 the castle was rebuilt by Jacques van Bergen-Glymes, who also enlarged the castle grounds.

In 1686 Filip Frans van Bergen became Prince of Grimbergen. This gave the castle its name ‘Prinsenkasteel’.

The castle was restored in the 17th and 18th century. In 1905 the castle was restored for the last time by Countess Jeanne de Merode. She however took up residence in a newly built castle in Westerlo. It was used as a nunnery until 1933. Until WW II the castle was kept up by a caretaker.

During the war the castle was occupied by the Germans. When they retreated they set fire to the castle to destroy all evidence of their presence and many secret documents. The castle burned to the ground and became a ruin. In 1947 it became property of the municipality of Grimbergen. Later it became a protected monument and works were carried out to stabilize the ruin.

The castle is situated on a small moated island in the forest, called ‘Prinsenbos’. The ruin is not accessible. There are plans to turn it into a permanent exhibition of a 16th century building site. I hope those plans fail because, in my opinion, they will destroy the romantic appearance the castle has now.

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