THE ABANDONED CASTLE IN BELGIUM
‘Château Rochendaal’ was built in 1881. In 1940 the castle domain was used by the German army. Later it was used by the Belgian Air Force as ‘Building 22’.
The castle was built by Jean-Henri-Paul Ulens, a local lawyer and mayor of the city of Sint-Truiden from 1878 until 1891. In 1904, notary and mayor Paul Cartuyvels and his wife Marie Seny bought the estate and used the castle as a country residence until his death in March 1940.
Eventually, the castle is added to the neighbouring military site that was built at the beginning of the Second World War by the Germans. Even after the liberation, it retained its military purpose. First as an American quarter and later in 1951 the estate was sold to the Belgian state, making it a military domain. In fact, it became the Air Force Enforcement Center, the military school of the Belgian Air Force. Rochendaal castle served as an officer’s home and was for this reason renamed ‘Building 22’.
The castle is a building with many artifacts. For example, the beautiful details on the ceiling, the wooden tiger heads on the fireplace and the view on the outside are marvelous.
In 1996 the military site is closed down. As a result, the building became abandoned and are meanwhile ruined by squatters and thieves. On 13 September 2017, a fire destroyed the castle. Even after the fire, the city of Sint-Truiden still wants to take over Château Rochendaal and its domain. According to the master plan for the site, the 16 hectares would become residential area and a park. I visited ‘Château Rochedaal’ in 2006 and 2012.