Castle Ter Elst is together with the Antwerp castle Steen one of the oldest buildings in the province of Antwerp. The history goes back to the early dark ages. We can follow the history of the castle via written documents back to the 12th century. The castle was back then property of the brothers Hildinckhusen, the oldest know lords of Duffel. In 1356 the castle became property of the abbey of Tongerlo and this would stay like that until the French revolution. The abbots turned the castle into a beautiful estate. Famous people stayed in the castle for a short or longer time. Margaretha of York often dropped by between 1477 and 1503. Another famous guest was Filips De Schone. He liked the castle so much that he wanted to buy it. To all this splendour came an abruptly end with the religious wars. Part of the castle was burned down in 1584. But the castle was rebuilt in an even more beautiful manor. At the end of the 16th century the castle turned into a haven for priests who had to
fled their parish in those troubled years. The castle grew into a small abbey during the 17th century. This would change in 1799 when the castle was confiscated
(like every religious good after the French revolution) and sold for 250.000 bef to Louis Hermans. The castle was partly destroyed during the battle of the Nete in 1914. Governor Baron Holvoet wanted to buy the castle to rebuild it and to turn it into the city hall. This was however rejected by the city council. So the castle stayed empty and turned through the years into a ruin. The city council decided in 1972 finally to buy the ruin. Alderman L. Hellemans was the driving force behind the restoration of the ruin and in 1982 he was able to open the ruin and park to the public. The once so majestic and beautiful castle is now more then 800 years after its erection not more then a tragic ruin reflecting in the moat. You will find the ruin of Ter Elst in the city of Duffel. The entrance is free.