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The mighty castle of Wijnendale - since the first stone was laid in the 11th century closely connected to the history of the county Flanders and the Kingdom Belgium. The Count of Flanders Gwijde van Dampierre rebuilt the originally wooden stronghold in stone in 1278. In this castle he entertains important European noblemen and kings. Later on the castle becomes property of Filips van Kleef, lord of Ravenstein. Filip would become famous for his revolt against Emperor Maximiliam. After a turmoil filled life he dies in his castle in 1528. Filip organized lots of hunting parties and it is during one of these parties that the beloved countess Maria of Burgundy falls of her horse. The young Countess is rushed back to the castle and later on to the city Brugge where she dies a few weeks later only 25 years old. After Filip the castle goes to an older branch of the van Kleef family. The estate of Duke Jan-Willem's gets divided in 1609, this almost resulted in a European war and was indirect the reason why Hendrik IV was murdered. After many fights it is finally the family Beieren-Neuburg who were decedents of Anna van Kleef that become owners of the castle. They never visited the castle. In 1689 a sad period of the castle started. Lodewijk XIV ordered to dismantle the stronghold. It was remodeled into an inn. Later, in 1811 the French tore down of the castle. Banker Matthieu buys the ruin in 1826. Architect Laureys rebuilds the castle in the 19th century. In 1940 during the 10-day campaign the Belgian King Leopold III meets with his ministers in the castle. It is in the library of the castle that the King refuses to follow his government into exile to England. His decision to stay with his fellow countrymen and women would change the Belgian history drastically once the war is over.
The Matthieu family still lives at the castle but they have opened large parts of the castle. On your visit you will walk through and relive the Flemish / Belgian history. Your visit will end on top of the keep where you will have a breathtaking look over the countryside.

(Picture 4 and 5 are scanned from a postcard)