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Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde Castle

Belgian Castles

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Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde Castle, locally known as Kasteel Marnix van Sint-Aldegonde or simply Bornem Castle, lies next to the town of Bornem, in the province of Antwerp in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The first fortification at this site was built somewhere during the 10th or 11th century to defend the area against Viking raids.

In 1587 the Bornem Lands, which were ravaged by the Spanish during the 80 Years’ War, were bought by a very wealthy Spanish nobleman, Pedro Coloma, Lord of Bobadilla. He had come here with the Spanish army of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. He had a new castle built on the foundations of the earlier fortification and became Lord of Bornem. He was succeded by his son Alexandre when he died in 1621. In 1658 Philip IV of Spain elevated the Bornem Lands to a county and thus Jean-Fran├žois Coloma, Pedro’s grandson, became the first Count of Bornem.

Bornem castle suffered so much damage during wars in the 17th century that in 1687 the keep had to be torn down.

In 1773 the castle was acquired by the De Marnix family after they had first leased the castle. During the French Revolution the 8th Count of Bornem, Charles de Marnix, fled to the Netherlands. The castle was then confiscated and sold by auction. In 1802 Charles bought back his castle and returned to live there once again.

In 1880 the 16th century Bornem Castle was demolished on the orders of Count Ferdinand de Marnix because he wanted to build a new castle. The new castle was built by the architects Henri Beyaert and E. Janlet in the Renaissance Revival style. This is the castle that we see today. So although this may look like a castle, it is actually a 19th century mansion.

In 1884 Count Ferdinand recieved permission, for himself and his descendants, to add “de Sainte Aldegonde” to his familyname. From then on the castle became known as Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde Castle.

At present Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde Castle is still privately owned and inhabited. A small part of the castle is now used as a museum and can be visited for a fee on a couple of days per year. Photography inside the castle is prohibited. A lovely castle.

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