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STERCKSHOF

The history of this castle goes way back before the 13th century when there was a reinforced moated farm (named Hoofdvunder) on the location of the current castle. It was probably there to defend a wooden bridge over the river Grote Shijn. The farm grew into a fortress that was bought by Gerard Sterck in 1524. The merchant, banker and counselor of Emperor Charles V rebuilds Hoofdvunter, which was later named Sterckshof, into an opulent castle. The castle was damaged during the religious wars but was not completely destroyed like so many other castles in the vicinity. Jacob Edelheer one of the later owners of the castle decked the castle with art collections and scientific collections. On his death the castle became property of his nephew Jacob van Lemens. Jacob dies childless in 1664, and this sets in an era of major squabbles between all the heirs, which resulted in the castle becoming dilapidated. In 1693 the castle becomes property of the Order Jesuits. The Austrian war of succession (1740-1748) was also a reason in the further decline of the castle until hardly anything was left of it. The Jesuit order disbanded and the domain was publicly auctioned off to Jan Baptist Cogels who joined it with the Rivieren Hof Park.
The Province of Antwerp bought the park together with the castle in 1921. The only thing left standing of the castle was the front extension of one floor, the entry gate and some parts of buildings in the back. Architect J.A. Van der Gucht started to work on the reconstruction in 1922 using some iconography material and foundations that had been dug out.
The castle is run by the Province of Antwerp since 1953, first under the name Provincial Museum for decorative arts and crafts, and now as Silver Center. You can visit the castle every day except for Mondays.
I have a lot more pictures of this castle HERE

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