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Binche Castle

Belgian Castles

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Binche Castle, locally known as Palais de Marie de Hongrie which translates to Palace of Mary of Hungary, lies in the southern corner of the walled old town of Binche, in the province of Hainaut in the Wallonia region in Belgium.

The first castle here was built in the 12th century under the orders of Baldwin IV, Count of Hainaut.

During the 15th century the castle was known as Château de la Salles and in 1461 it was restored under the orders of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Margaret of York, widow of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, had received Binche as a dowry. Around 1500 she had the Château de la Salles extended.

In 1528, Mary of Hungary became Governess of the Netherlands. She often stayed in Binche, which soon became one of her favorite residences. In return for her devotion, Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, offered his sister lifetime usufruct of the imperial estate of Binche. She decided to raze the castle to the ground and build a renaissance-style palace in its place. Its construction was entrusted, in 1545, to the architect Jacques Du Broeucq. Mary sided with her brother in the fight against the King of France, Henri II. In 1552, she had the favorite property of Henri II, Folembray Castle, burnt to the ground. Two years later, Henri II in return ordered the burning of her palace at Binche.

Only part of the palace was saved from destruction. Restoration work commenced but stopped in 1556, when Mary left the Netherlands for good and went to live in Spain. The castle remained unoccupied until 1600. Then Albert VII, Archduke of Austria, and his wife took up residence in one of the wings of Mary of Hungary’s palace. They had maintenance works carried out, and stayed there until their castle was built in Mariemont. Later during the 17th century the castle fell into ruin.

In 1704 the ruins of the castle, which were in a state of collapse, were demolished. In the 19th century a public park was built on the remains.

In the 20th century large parts of the castle were excavated.

At present the ruins of Castle are part of a public park. The ruins themselves can not be visited but can be seen easily in the park. The park is accessible during daytime. These are great ruins with lots to explore.

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