Castle Middelheim and its museum

The oldest mention of a place called Middelheim in Antwerp dates back to 1342. From the sixteenth century, many Antwerp families had their summer residence there. The small castle was converted in a Louis XVI style building in the 18th century, probably to plans made by Parisian architect 'H. Guimard' and has since then not undergone any significant changes.

Picture by Harry Fabel

In 1910, the city council of Antwerp bought the entire domain and opened it as a public park. Later parts of the site were made available for the establishment of the Middelheim Hospital, the University of Antwerp and the Pastoral and a Theological Center. In 1950 an international exhibition was held in the Middelheim Park of 20 ha. On Mayor 'Lode Craeybeckx's' proposal, the city council decided to set up a permanent open-air museum for sculptures.

Picture by Harry Fabel
Now the castle park has an extensive collection of sculptures with a beautiful overview of modern sculpture. It houses sculptors like Jean Arp, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Alexander Calder, Pablo Gargallo, Barbara Hepworth, Floris and Oscar Jespers, Aristide Maillol, Giacomo Manzu, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Reinhoud, Auguste Rodin, Jesus Rafael Soto, Rik Wouters, Ossip Zadkine.

Picture by Harry Fabel

The museum is open daily, except on Mondays. Inside the castle there is a tourist office and a Grand cafĂ©. You can find it at this address: Middelheimlaan 61, Antwerp.

Castle Sterckshof

Already in the 13th century there was the farm called 'Hooftvunder', on site of the present castle, i was a fortified farm surrounded by a canal. This farm was later changed into a fortified estate that had many owners. In 1524 'Gerard Sterck', merchant, banker and secret counselor from Emperor Karel V bought the estate and he converted the farm to a Renaissance-style castle, from then on to the castle was called 'Sterckshof'.

Unlike other castles in Antwerp, the Sterckshof castle was not destroyed during the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, but it got neglected after a battle between heirs in the 17th century. In 1693 the Sterckshof castle was owned by the Christian order the 'Jesuits of Lier', but again it was sold in 1778 to banker 'Jan Baptist Cogels', which merged the castle grounds with the neighbouring 'Ter Rivieren estate'.

In 1921, the Provincial Government of Antwerp purchased the 'Ter Rivieren estate' with on it the Sterckshof castle to make the current public Rivierenhof park. From the original Sterckshof castle only one side, one tower, the entrance gate and a few outbuildings were saved. Architect 'J.A. Van der Gucht' signed the plans for a reconstruction of the castle in 1922. Based on ancient images and archaeological excavations.

You can find the castle at this address: Sterckshoflei, Antwerp.

Castle Den Brandt

The name 'Den Brandt' is used for the first time in 1396 as a name for the piece of land were the castle was later built on. Presumably, the name indicates a burned place, a former mining method, where pieces of hay and forest were burned and then transformed into agricultural land.

Picture by Harry Fabel

In the history of the domain there is first talk of a farm, later from a 'Speelhuys' (Playhouse) and around 1582 finally of a the name 'The Court of Brande'.

The present castle was built in 1790 in a Louis XVI style. The first owner was 'C.A. della Faille'. In 1910 the 'Kreglinger' family became owner of the  castle together with a 16 ha park surrounding it.  Another 48 ha part of the park was sold to the city of Antwerp to create a new park open to the public. On 18 December 1962 the city of Antwerp also became the official owner of the Kreglinger domain and the castle.

Picture by Harry Fabel

Today, the castle is used for all sorts of activities, such as seminars, shows, concerts, balls, festivals and banquets. You can find the castle at this address: Beukenlaan 12, Antwerp.