With a group of friends, we travelled to Pajottenland in Flanders (which is about 40-45 minutes by car from Brussels) to visit Gaasbeek Castle which reopened after an extensive restoration as recently as July 2023. There is a brand new ticket office at the entrance to the grounds and the park that leads to the castle.
The building has gone through quite a number of owners as well as changes in style during its 800 years of history. The last proprietor, Marquise Arconati Visconti transformed it in the 1880s and 1890s into a summer folly. The architecture, interior, furniture, art and tapestries as well as the garden were designed in medieval Neo-Renaissance style to serve as a fairytale setting, where the Marquise could dress up in various costumes of her favourite era, often as a page.
In 1921 she donated Gaasbeek Castle to the Belgian state, and it opened to the public a year after her death in 1924. Walking through the halls, rooms and corridors there is a lot to see; for example, Gothic furniture and paintings and several large 16th century tapestries from Tournai and Brussels, as well as the Petit Blois Wing and Marie’s apartment that are in neo-Rococo style.
Currently, marking the 100th anniversary of her death, there is a special exhibition in her memory ‘Ne M’oubliez Mie’ created by the theatre company FC Bergman.
Sadly, we did not have time to visit the nearby large top-level museum garden modelled on castle gardens from the 18th and 19th centuries or walk about in the huge (49 hectares) park around the castle. A good reason to come back another time.
Gaasbeek Castle, garden and park is open every day between 9:30 am and 17:30 pm except Mondays. Kasteelstraat 40, 1750 Lennik