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GROOT BIJGAARDEN

A wide moat washes under the five-arched bridge of this mighty castle. It was inhabited in 1110 by Almaric de Bigard and has changed hands 40 times over since then. When you walk over the entrance bridge you reach the drawbridge building that dates back to the 14th century. The two round towers were added in 1640. They carry the coat of arms of the Boisschot dynasty. The castle itself is a building of large dimensions and is a peculiar example of Flemish renaissance style. The left wing is dominated by the peer shaped tower, while the right wing flanks a chapel. Separately from the castle we find the massive keep. This tower is from 1347 it is 37 meter high it has four floors and the walls are 3 meters wide. From the top of this massive keep you have a prestigious view over the Flemish countryside. On a clear day you can see 30 km far. The keep was in 1546 the location of tragic events. The Lords de Bigard had spoken words and preformed deeds many times that were once considered heretic. They were accused as such and the council of Brabant sent a division to the castle to besiege the keep. After a heroic battle that smoked out Bigard's, the brave defenders had to give up the struggle. They were transported to the prison of Brussels and got the death penalty. They were beheaded January 5th, 1547 by the headsman. Antoine de Zayment was able to flee from prison but he was pursued when he jumped out a window while trying to stay out the hands of his pursuers and died. His body was taken to the gallows-lee where it was left for the crows. This way the case of the Lady de Bigard and her son ended in a dramatic way because they thought differently then due to the Catholic Church.
Giving you all the names of the families who ruled over this castle would take far too long, so we will go to 1902 when Raymond Pelgrims de Bigard stood almost 800 years after his ancestor on the threshold of his family castle to see buildings that were in decay, a moat that was filled up and farms that blocked the entrance to the ones so proud stronghold. From these remains with a grant past Raymond would create, taking 30 years of hard work, again one of the most impressive feudal estates of which Belgium can be very proud. The castle is located in the town with the same name. It is private property but can be rented for all kind of things.

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