Cerckel Park encapsulates almost 800 years of history.
In 1228, one of the oldest monasterial communities of Diest, the Order of Friars Minor, settled on the banks of the Demer River.
In 1580, much of Diest was destroyed by the troops of William of Orange, including the Friars Minor’s monastery. Soldiers robbed the tomb of Ann of Lorraine (wife of René van Chalon). The city council later reburied her in the church of St Sulpitius.
After 3 years in exile, the Friars returned and started the reconstruction.
At the end of the 18th century, the monastery was publicly sold by the French, heralding the end for the Order of Friars Minor in Diest. The infirmary and arch gate are all that remained.
During the 19th century, the beer industry in Diest rapidly expanded. Brewer family Pieck - later Cerckel - purchased roughly half of the monasterial domain and transformed it into a beautiful pleasure garden. The vegetable gardens became a pond with a pretty wrought iron bridge and the former monastery infirmary was converted into a garden pavilion with an orangery as an extension.
When the Cerckel Brewery disappeared, the magnificent city garden also fell into disrepair.
The city of Diest purchased the park in 1990.
Following the renovation of the pond, bridge, cave and arch gate, the park reopened to the public in April 2011.
The infirmary and orangery will also be returned to their former glory in a later restoration phase.