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BELOEIL

The history of this castle goes back to the beginning of the 12th century. It was the property of the Lords of Beloeil until it came in the hands of the family of the Princes The Ligne. This noble family enlarged and beautified the old castle. They only kept the four towers and now nothing is left of the original view. The castle as we see it now was built by Claire-Marie van Nassau the Princess de Ligne in 1680 and after she passed away her son proceeded with the works. The castle is heavenly inspired by 17th French architecture features. Still it keeps a bit of itís middle age pride because of the four corner towers. The castle and the gardens were already famous in the 17th century. Disaster struck in 1900 when the main building was destroyed by a fire. The inhabitants of the village were luckily able to save most of the furniture and the priceless art. The castle was rebuild under the leadership of the French architect, Sanson. I visited the castle in September 2001. You can walk freely in the castle and it is loaded with art and 17th century furniture. The library hold 20,000 volumes with a large amount of rare manuscripts. The famous French gardens are 120ha and they date from the 17th century. Field Marshal Charles Ė Joseph, Prince De Ligne added in the 18th century English gardens. Although the weather was horrid and it poured rain during my visit I couldnt help but enjoy it. The castle is open from Eastern until the end of May during the weekends and on holidays from 10am until 18pm. From June until the end of September everyday during the same hours. The castle is close to the city Ath. Follow the N7 in the direction of Doornik and exit at Beloeil and visit this symbol of a family which has left its mark on Belgiumís history.

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