Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium
The Versailles of the North TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: ASBL FONDS CHÂTEAU DE BELOEIL
The magnificent Château de Beloeil, known as the ‘little Versailles of the North’, is located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. Its gardens were designed by a student of André Le Nôtre, the French landscape architect and King Louis XIV’s gardener who designed the Versailles gardens. The château has been the residence of the Belgian Princes de Ligne since the 14th century and Michel, the 14th Prince de Ligne, continues to reside here. The current château evolved from a mansion, to a fortress, and finally to a country house. It lies in an impressive 25-hectare park, which includes a number of beautiful lakes as well as sculptured gardens with geometric designs and symbols. His Highness the Prince de Ligne says he especially appreciates the “beauty, the peace and the quietness” to be found in Beloeil. 58 | Issue 27 | March 2016
The French-style gardens maintain their original design of 1664. They are ideal for hosting festivals and high-profile events, including garden parties, sporting events, firework displays or maiden helicopter flights. One of the key events at the château is Les Musicales de Beloeil, a large classical music festival. Around 15,000 people attend and walk around the beautiful gardens whilst enjoying performances on various stages. This year it takes place on Saturday 6 August.
In addition to the striking gardens, the château houses a superb art collection, with paintings from the 15th to the 19th century. The castle also has a library of 20,000 books. Beloeil’s richly furnished drawing rooms can also be hired out for events, with space for up to 100 people. The rooms encompass a library, a conference room and a chapel; conferences, gala dinners, receptions or theatrical performances can all be held in this unique setting.
Another special event is the amaryllis festival. It takes place in collaboration with the Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens located in Holland. Flower producers deliver 10,000 stunning amaryllis, including intricate bouquets. The most beautiful and original bouquets receive prizes. The festival will be held from Saturday 26 March to Sunday 3 April (open every day from 10am till 6pm).
The château is open on weekends and the bank holidays in April, May, June and September, from 1pm till 6pm. In July and August, it is open daily from 1pm till 6pm. Guided tours (for groups) encompassing a detailed family history are available in English, French, Dutch and German. www.chateaudebeloeil.com