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Castles in Belgium

Below is alist of some of the most beautiful castles scattered throughout Belgium. Many have been converted to Chateaus and are private, however some remain unchanged and open to the public.

Royal Castle of Laeken

The Royal Castle of Laeken is the official residence of the King and Queen of the Belgians and their family. The vast park of the Château includes lakes, a golf course and various pavilions like the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower. The Chinese Pavilion was commissioned by king Leopold II. The rooms are designed in a ‘Chinoiserie’ Louis XIV-style and Louis XVI style. They are decorated with Chinese motifs, chinaware and silverware. The Japanese Tower is a pagoda, originally built for the world fair of Paris in 1900. It was bought by King Leopold II and brought to Brussels. Upon their accession to the throne in 1993, King Albert II and Queen Paola preferred to remain living at Belvédère, a château on the grounds of the park surrounding the castle. The current occupants of the castle are TRH The Duke and Duchess of Brabant.

Hof van Savoye

The Hof van Savoye (Court of Savoy) or Palace of Margaret of Austria is an early 16th century building in Mechelen, Belgium. It was one of the first Renaissance buildings in northern Europe. Archduchess Margaret of Austria, Governor of the Netherlands, was granted a house located in the Korte Maagdenstraat (Virgins Short Street),[Note 1] but she found it too small and started an ambitious expansion campaign in 1507. From 1517 to 1530 the architect Rombout II Keldermans furthered the project, along the Keizerstraat (Emperor Street) modifying what became the rear wing, which faces the Palace of Margaret of York, her step grandmother who had died in 1503. Margaret raised her nephew Charles, the later Holy Roman Emperor, in her palace at which she lived until her death in 1530.

Bornem Castle

Bornem Castle, aka the De Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde Castle, is a country house, formerly a castle, located in Bornem, province of Antwerp. The building stands on the Oude Schelde, a tributary of the Scheldt. The earliest fortification on the site was of the 10th or 11th centuries and was intended to defend against the Normans. A later castle was built on the foundations of the older building in 1587 by the Spanish nobleman Pedro Coloma, lord of Bobadilla. The property was afterwards leased by the family de Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, who became the outright owners in 1773. The present house was built on the same site at the end of the 19th century to plans by Hendrik Beyaert, after the remains of the 16th century building had been demolished. It remains in ownership of the house Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, the current resicent is John de Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, 14th Earl of Bornem.

Het Steen

Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp, Belgium, one of Europe’s biggest ports. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp’s oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre. Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The rebuilding led to its being known first as “‘s Heeren Steen” (the King’s stone castle), and later simply as “Het Steen” (the stone castle). The Dutch word “steen” means “stone”, and is used for “fortress” or “palace”, as in the “Gravensteen” in Ghent, Belgium. At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.

Gravensteen

The Gravensteen is a castle in Ghent originating from the Middle Ages. The name means “castle of the count” in DutchThe present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace [2] and was modeled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls and dungeon were restored to their original condition. The castle has been repaired enough to allow people to travel through it and climb on top. It is still partly surrounded by the moat. Inside is a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent.

Wissekerke Castle

The Wissekerke Castle is situated in the village of Bazel of Kruibeke municipality in the East Flanders province of Belgium. Although a castle stood at this site since 10th century, the present castle was largely built in the 15th century with lake, park and a suspension bridge. The suspension bridge by the castle is one of the oldest surviving wrought iron suspension bridges in Europe and was designed in 1824 by Jean-Baptiste Vifquain, an engineer from Brussels. In 1989 the castle was purchased by the town of Kruibeke, which has since handled the restoration work. The castle is also venue to many cultural activities, tours and exhibitions. In spite of the modest span of 23 meters, the bridge is of great industrial archaeological value, because of its historical and structural uniqueness. Since 1981, the bridge at Bazel has been a protected historic monument.

Rumbeke Castle

Rumbeke Castle (Dutch: Kasteel van Rumbeke) is a historical building in Rumbeke in West Flanders, Belgium, one of the oldest Renaissance castles in the country. According to legend, Baldwin Iron Arm, Count of Flanders, kidnapped Judith, the daughter of Charles the Bald in 862 in Senlis and brought her to the fortress that used to be at the very location where the present castle now stands. With the intervention of the Pope, the two lovers married in Auxerre, which then resulted in the creation of the County of Flanders. It was taken over by the Germans and became for a short period of time, the home of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, who was credited with shooting down 80 enemy aircraft in his brightly painted red airplane.

Kasteel van Arenberg

Kasteel van Arenberg (Dutch), or Arenberg Château in English, is a château in Heverlee close to Leuven in Belgium. It is surrounded by a park. The first manned gas-filled balloon flight in history took off from the front lawn of the château on November 21, 1783; the balloonist was professor Jan Pieter Minckeleers. The building is open to the public. The former Celestine monastery on the château grounds now houses the campus library, and the addresses of many of the science buildings are on the street named Celestijnlaan (Dutch for “Celestine Street”).

Beersel Castle

Beersel Castle is located in the Belgian town of Beersel, Flemish Brabant, south of Brussels. It has 3 massive watchtowers, and is surrounded by a wide moat. The castle was first mentioned in the 12th century. The present fortress was constructed by Godfrey of Hellebeek between 1300 and 1310 as a defensive base for Brussels. The castle was damaged during the war of succession of Brabant (1356-57), but was repaired just after that. During the rebellion against Maximilian of Austria, Beersel supported Maximilian, and the castle was besieged, taken and plundered by the troops of Brussels in 1489. It was only partially destroyed, and was restored after the war.

Bouchout Castle

Bouchout Castle is a castle in the Flemish town of Meise, Belgium. In the 12th century, this territory of the young Duchy of Brabant was strategically positioned between the County of Flanders and the Berthout family, lords of Grimbergen. Most likely, the first fortification was built by Wouter van Craaynem at the end of the Grimbergen Wars (1150–1170). From 1879 until 1927, Empress Charlotte of Mexico lived at the Bouchout Domain. Her husband Emperor Maximilian I was executed by Mexican republicans in 1867. Thereafter Charlotte lead a secluded life at Bouchout Castle. Since 1939, the Bouchout Domain has developed into the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Since the last renovation of 1987–1989, the castle and its rooms are now being used for meetings, lectures and exhibitions.

Gaasbeek Castle

Gaasbeek Castle (Dutch: Kasteel Gaasbeek), today a national museum, is located in the municipality of Lennik in the province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium. Since 1980 the castle has been owned by the Flemish Community (Vlaamse Gemeenschap). The castle contains impressive art collections displayed in lavishly decorated historical rooms. A remarkable collection piece is the authentic testament of the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens The castle and its grounds (a park of 50 hectares or 124 acres) are open to the public.

Anvaing Castle

Anvaing Castle (Château d’Anvaing) is a castle in the village of Anvaing in the municipality of Frasnes-lez-Anvaing, province of Hainaut, Belgium. A castle was known here as early as the time of the First Crusade. The first dated reference is from 1127. There is little documentation of the buildings on the site however until the reconstructions of 1561 and 1800. The owners were apparently the Roubaix family, judging from the arms on an early part of the building, and later the Lannoy family, whose descendants still own it. The castle is chiefly notable as the place where on 28 May 1940 by order of King Leopold III the capitulation of the Belgian forces after the Battle of the Lys was signed. Stéphanie de Lannoy, future hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, grew up in the castle.

Chimay Castle

Chimay CastChimay Castle, the castle of the princes of Chimay, is an ancient stronghold which some documents suggest may be as old as the year 1000. Through the years the medieval bastion became a fortress. In the 15th century the castle was altered: five new towers were linked by corridors to the keep to increase its defensive potentialle is a castle in Chimay, Hainaut, Belgium. The highlight of a visit is without doubt the beautiful theater that is situated in the castle. If you are in the area of Chimay then visit this little town and the castle that still after all these centuries stand proudly overlooking the town and surroundings.

Havré Castle

Havré Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Havré in the town of Mons, province of Hainaut, Belgium. The origins of the castle can be only traced back to the year 1226, even the counts of Flanders and Hainaut have had control over Havré since the 11th century. In 1255 Ida of Mons was married to Engelbert d’Enghien. Their descendants keep Havré Castle to the year 1423. Then Gérard d’Enghien passes the Castle on to Christophe d’Harcourt. Through marriage, the castle came into the possession of the families Dunan, Longeville and Croy.

Franchimont Castle

Franchimont Castle (French: Château de Franchimont) is a medieval castle in the municipality of Theux, province of Liège, Belgium. It sits at the western end of a small hill overlooking the village of Franchimont. It is thought to have originally been built in the 11th century, as a stronghold of the Principality of Liège. The original building was extended several times during the Middle Ages, once after a fire in 1387. In 1487 the castle was besieged, and around the same period the La Marck family took ownership of it. In the early 16th century the outer wall was built, with casemates and an artillery tower added. The remains of the keep, from the inside Today the castle is owned by the town of Theux and is open to the public. The artillery tower at the north-east corner contains a small exhibition and the ticket office.

Miranda Castle

Miranda Castle (French: Château Miranda), also known as Noisy Castle (French: Château de Noisy) is a 19th century castle in Celles, province of Namur, Belgium, in the region of the Ardennes. The castle was built in 1866 by the English architect Milner under commission from the Liedekerke-Beaufort family, who had left their previous home, Vêves Castle, during the French Revolution. Their descendants remained in occupation until World War II, when it was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS) as an orphanage. It remained a facility for the use of children until 1980. It has stood empty since 1991. Although the municipality of Celles has offered to take it over, the family has refused, and the enormous building is now (as of 2011) in a derelict state. It has become a favourite venue of urban explorers.

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