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Herzele Castle

Belgian Castles

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Herzele Castle, locally known as Burcht van Herzele, lies in the center of the town with the same name, south west of the city of Aalst, in the province of East Flanders in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The first castle at this site was probably founded in the beginning of the 7th century and only consisted of a wooden structure defended by earthen walls and water. It served as a refuge against Vikings.

In the 11th century the previous wooden structure was replaced by a castle built out of sandstone. The 11th century was a turbulent time for this region; because in 1056 Boudewijn V, Count of Flanders took over this region thus separating it from the German Empire.

In 1096 Franco, Lord of Herzele went on his crusade. So it was probably him who strengthened the castle before leaving his family.

During the entire 13th century there is no mention of the castle. In 1381 however the castle got caught in a war between the Count of Flanders and the townspeople of Ghent. This resulted in the destruction of the castle, then owned by Seger, Lord of Herzele. The nearby church and houses were also burned down. In the 15th century the castle was rebuilt by Jan van Roubaix.

In 1579 the fate of the castle was sealed. Due to the protestant beliefs of its owner; Pieter van Melun, the castle was besieged by Spanish troops. Their cannons shot the castle to pieces and only the present tower and wall parts survived. After that the castle fell to ruin.

Until 1969 ownership of the castle terrain went through several families before being bought by the town council. A period of consolidation, restoration and excavation followed.

What you can see now is a restored corner tower with 3 floors and foundations of the gate towers, curtain walls and a keep.

This is a pleasant little ruin in a pleasant little town. It is situated in the town park and freely accessible. Only the restored corner tower is closed and I don’t know if visits of its interior are possible.

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