In one of Belgium’s most beautiful villages (Bachte-Maria-Leerne (near Deinze), you’ll find one of Belgium’s most beautiful castles, Castle Ooidonk.
Ooidonk Castle didn’t start off as a castle. Initially it was a farm, built in the 12th century, later in the 14th century, it was turned into a fortress as part of the defense system of the city of Ghent. The original buildings were first destroyed in 1491, during the war of the Count of Flanders against the French king.
In the 16th century, through marriage, the castle became property of the De Montmerency family. The most famous De Montmerency is no doubt Filip, Duke of Hoorne who was probably born in Ooidonk, but definitely beheaded in Brussels after the Spanish governor Alva signed his death sentence.
In 1579 calvanists burned down the castle and shortly after, the ruins were sold to Maarten della Faille, son of a wealthy family from Kortrijk. It was he who rebuilt the castle in its current renaissance style.
In 1864 the domain was sold again, to Count Arnold ‘t Kint de Roodenbeke whose heirs still live in the castle up to this date. Since then the castle has been renovated and extended, but no major changes were made to the renaissance exterior.
You enter the domain through the Blue Gate, which is strangely enough made of red bricks. Initially seven of these tower gates were planned but this is the only one that was realised. A tree-lined cobble stone lane leads up to the castle and its French gardens. While the ’t Kint de Roodenbeke family throughout the years maintained the buildings very well, most of their attention was directed to the magnificent gardens. Both the gardens and surrounding meadows are open to the public every day exept Mondays (1 euro entrance to visit the gardens), so it is no surprise they are very popular with cyclists and people coming for a stroll, especially on weekends. The castle itself can be visited as well, from April to mid September (Sundays only – in July and August also on Saturdays). Occasionally open air concerts and fairs are organized as well
For more information on Ooidonk Castle, click here
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