The origin of the castle dates back to 1304. The small castle was owned by the local knights of Wilre. It owed its name – steen is dutch for stone – to the fact that it was the first stone building of the region. Other claim that the name refers to the square stone tower that was part of the building until the 18th century.
As of 1396 the castle was owned by the family de Taeye; Jacob De Taeye was was the most notable of this family being chamberlain of Filips de Goede and Karel de Stoute.
During the 15th and 16th century the castle had a strategic function allowing the Duchy of Brabant to rule over Mechelen. Over the years the small castle expanded with a drawbridge, tower, castle moat, additional grounds and meadows. When the Lord of Corbais, Jan Cools, bought the castle in 1622 it obtained a more residential function. As a result of serious debts Jan Cools was forced to sell the castle.
In 1635 the world-famous Antwerp painter Pieter Paul Rubens bought the castle to live there with his second wife, the 16-year old wife Helena Fourment. He completely redesigned the castle in a Flemish Renaissance style and had his coat of arms engraved above the fireplace in the living room. As of then the castle was referred to as the “Rubens castle”.
Rubens made some of his most famous works in and around the castle, and the castle itself was also subject of one of his paintings.
After Rubens’ death in 1640, his wife Helena Fourment, stayed in the castle.
In 1792 it was temporarily used as a state prison but it was eventually abandoned.
The current owner had the castle gradually restored since 1955, and in 2009 the castle was granted status of official architectural heritage.
The castle domain is accessed via a forged iron gate, a driveway through the well-kept gardens brings you to the splendid courtyard of the building complex, with the castle itself and a U-shaped farmyard. The castle itself is surrounded by a castle moat, a stone bridge gives access to the castle itself.
There are two wings in the castle, the right wing containing the living areas of the ‘lord of the manor’, the left wing being the living quarters of the household staff.
There are in total 7 bedrooms, 5 toilets, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 5 open fires, 3 offices, 2 bathrooms, a cellar and several other smaller rooms. In the attic is room for at least 5 bedrooms and a bathroom or a separate apartment.
Outside the castle is a separate courtyard providing access to the gardens behind.
The three other buildings in the domain are situated at the opposite of the castle and is referred to as the farmyard.
The first building is a completely equipped villa in sandstone with a chapel and 3 bedrooms on the ground floor, and another 3 bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.
The second building is again a charming villa with 4 bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.
The third building houses a garage for 4 cars, a number of storage spaces, a tower, workspace, a conservatory and a small house.
The Rubens castle and its surroundings are of great architectural and artistic value, and are part of Belgium’s national heritage.
This Beautiful Castle is represented for sale by Engel Voelkers