Did you know that Belgium has more castles per capita than France, the country known for its many chateaus? Thanks to its central location, Brussels is the ideal base for day trips to the many different castles in Belgium. Below, we have put together information about our three favourite castles in the Brussels area.
Since its construction in Laeken between 1782 and 1784 by the French architect Charles de Wailly, the Royal Palace of Laeken has been the official residence of the royal family. The palace belongs to the Royal Domain, which also includes the castles of Stuyvenberg and Belvédère, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken and Villa Schonenberg. In addition, on the property, you will find some lakes, the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower, which are part of the Museums of the Far East. Although this castle serves as a residence for most of the year, it is open to visitors every year during the royal family’s summer holidays. Seize your chance to see this special castle inside and out!
Gaasbeek Castle is located near the village of the same name, in the province of Flemish Brabant. It was probably built around 1240 by Godfrey of Louvain, in order to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the counties of Hainaut and Flanders. Over the following centuries, the castle regularly changed hands and was badly damaged during various conflicts. From 1887 to 1897, Gaasbeek Castle was renovated into the castle seen today, with the help of architect Charles Albert. The current interior also dates from this time. All that remains of the medieval castle is the base of the building, recognisable by its grey stonework. All the masonry dates back to the 19th century renovation. Gaasbeek Castle is currently open to visitors as a national museum. Concerts are also organised regularly and the gardens are a popular picnic spot.
The Château of Val-Duchess, located in Auderghem just outside Brussels, is a former priory built by Adelaide of Burgundy, wife of Duke of Brabant Henry III. The history of the castle can be called eventful, to say the least, with many changes of ownership and much damage. The low point was in 1796, when the castle was actually demolished as a result of the French Revolution. In 1903, Norway’s Charles Dietrich acquired the estate. Dietrich completely restored the castle, rebuilt the adjacent park and had the priory reconstructed with the help of architect Albert Roosenboom. Some negotiations that played a key role in the formation of the European Union also took place here. During a visit to this castle, you can follow this eventful history through the various architectural styles that make up the building.