Are you looking for castles in Belgium that make you feel like you stepped right inside of a fairytale? Then look no further! Over the past months I made it my mission to find the most beautiful castles in Belgium and I have to say some of them are even more impressive than those in Germany! From fortified buildings to grand aristocratic mansions, Belgium has over 3000 castles in total! You can find them from the top of Flanders all the way to the bottom of Wallonia. Let’s say you pretty much can’t turn a corner in Belgium without bumping into a castle. Almost every small town in Belgium has a castle and I found the most beautiful ones that you can now discover yourself!
Did you know that Belgium holds the world record for the most amount of castles per square meter? The provinces of Namur and Liege actually have the highest density of castles spread throughout their rolling landscape.
In Wallonia they are usually made from stones found in the Ardennes region and they were build to fortify the towns and rivers. The castles in Flanders are usually a lot younger, made of brick and they elude the feeling of aristocratic homes.
Unfortunately you can’t visit all 3000 castles in Belgium but at least 400 of them are open to the public! They now serve as a museum, hotel, bed & breakfast and you’ll even find some castle restaurants! Since visiting 400 castles is pretty nuts I did some extensive research and found the most beautiful ones for you!
This post will be updated on a regular basis, always including more information and more castles.
The Most Beautiful Castles in Belgium You Must See
Beautiful Castles in the Province of Antwerp
Castle of Zellaer
The Castle of Zellaer can be found in Bonheiden, a small town close to Mechelen. Its history goes back to the 13th century and over the years a lot of different families lived here. The Castle of Zellaer didn’t always look like this. In the very beginning it used to be a water castle and due to the succession of different residents a lot of renovation and reconstruction took place. The current castle was built in 1885 in the neo Gothic style and is open to visitors.
Every first Sunday of the month at 2pm you can join a tour of the castle grounds and step into the footsteps of it’s former residents. If you want to take part you have to send an email to email@example.com. Participation for this event is €4.
Opening hours – 10am to 5pm (closed on Monday)
Entrance – You don’t have to pay to enter the park and while you’re at it go for a little stroll. It’s absolutely beautiful here and during Spring and Summer it is lined with beautiful flowers.
Cleydael Castle is a beautiful moated castle in the province of Aartselaar and parts of it date back to the 14th century. Until the 18th century it was owned by the lords of Cleydael. These days it is private property and you can find it next to a huge golf course.
It’s not possible to actually visit the castle itself but it is possible to admire it from the outside and to snap some photos!
There is a small parking lot across the street. You have to drive into a little dirt road to reach it.
The Borrekens Castle is also known as the castle of Vorselaar and has to be one of the most picturesque castles in the province of Antwerp in Belgium! The castle is located in a beautiful park which is free to enter at any time. The castle itself is privately owned and can only be admired from across the moat. The best place to admire the castle is when you walk around towards the back of it and here you’ll find a beautiful opening in the hedges.
Castle Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde – One of the most beautiful castles in Belgium
I have probably already said it before, but I will say it again, this has to be one of my absolute favourite castles in entire Belgium. Somehow when I picture a castle in my mind this is what I see :D. So when I started my castle research back in February this fairytale castle in Bornem immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately I didn’t count on the fact that it’s private property and I was greeted by a big sign that said ‘No entrance allowed – Active security cameras’. While I sometimes might do some crazy stuff to get a photo I would never enter private property without permission. So I went back home, tail between my legs. But this castle never really left my mind.
So when I started writing this blog post I knew I had to find some way to take beautiful photos here. And well with the help of my good friend Google Maps I was able to find an amazing viewpoint from where you can admire the castle in all it’s glory without entering someone’s private property. It’s also super easy to reach, just drive to the Binnendijkstraat and park your car alongside the road once you see the castle appearing from behind the trees. Keep Google Maps at hand at set it on satellite mode, this way you can easily spot where the piers are. Some of them are private property and closed off but we found two of them that were open and free to enter. All you have to do now is watch out for the bird poop!
The current resident is John de Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, 14th Earl of Bornem and every year he does open up the castle grounds for a couple of days! So for those of you who also want to admire the inside of this castle, yes it is possible!
Castle Marnix de Saint-Aldegonde can be visited without an appointment on the 15th of August, the last 2 Sundays of August and the first 2 Sundays of September from 2.30pm to 4pm.
You can also make an appointment to visit the castle from the 15th of April until the 1st of November. Groups have to be of minimum 10, maximum 25 people.
Of course because of Covid-19 it is currently not possible to visit the castle inside since the Count who is residing here is already in his 80’s.
For more information about your visit you can contact the person responsible here.
Castle Ter Elst
Castle Ter Elst is located in Duffel, only 20 minutes driving from Antwerp. These days there’s nothing left but the castle ruins and the only inhabitants you’ll find here are the sheep that reside between the castle walls.
The bridge to the castle is closed off so you can walk around it and admire it from here but you can’t go in between the castle ruins.
Castle Ter Elst is one of the oldest buildings in the province of Antwerp and got severely damaged during the first World War.
Beautiful Castles in the Province of Brabant
In this section I will include the most beautiful castles that you can visit in the provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and the Brussels-Capital Region.
Solvay Castle or also known as Château de la Hulpe is located in the municipality of La Hulpe close to Brussels. The castle was completed in 1840 for the Marquis Maximilien de Béthune and stands on top of a hill in a beautiful park. In 1893 Ernest Solvay bought the property as his summer residence and passed the domain on to his sons.
In 1963 the Solvay Castle was listed as a protected building and was later on gifted to the Belgian state. As from 1972 this beautiful castle is now open to the public.
Opening hours – 8am to 9pm (6pm during the Winter)
Due to new police regulations the park remains open for visiting on the weekdays but is closed on the weekend. Access to the terraces of the Château, the houses/gardens and closed-off meadows is forbidden.
Entrance – The park is free to enter
The Castle of Meldert
I could not write this list without including this beautiful gothic castle in Meldert. Why not, I hear you thinking. Well this is where I went to high school! Yes, you heard that right, I went to high school in an actual castle. Pretty much something that only happens in a Harry Potter book or apparently in Belgium.
To be completely honest, it was super weird to be back here. I felt like I was transported back in time and was 14 years old again. Standing in the same exact spot, falling in love for the very first time.
Sint-Jans College in Meldert is one of the best examples of neo gothic architecture and is surrounded by a beautiful park. The castle as we know it today was built in 1845. In 1957 the entire estate was bought by the ‘Aalmoezeniers van de Arbeid‘, who tried to minimize the class struggle by increasing the self-esteem of the working class. In addition to educational activities, they often engaged in social work or youth work.
In 2017 the castle of Meldert was completely renovated which cost a mind blowing €2.600.000.
Beautiful Castles in the Province of Namur
The Castle of Vêves – A magical castle in Belgium
This beautiful castle in Belgium looks like it came straight out of Harry Potter and can be found in the village of Celles. Ever since the 7th century this site has been occupied by many castles and the current one dates from 1410. Over the past centuries it has always been inhabited by the same family.
You can choose to visit this castle on your own or go on a guided tour.
Opening hours – From April to October it’s open every weekend and on holidays and during July and August it’s open for visiting every day. For a group tour you have to make a reservation from before but it is open all year round. On occasion the castle may be closed due to festivities held here.
Entrance – €8 (€50 if you want a private guide)
You can find the Carondelet Castle in the small town of Crupet, north of Dinant in the province of Namur! It dates back to the 11th and 12th century and is one of the best preserved tower house castles outside of the UK and Ireland.
Currently it is not possible to visit the castle since it’s undergoing construction but it’s still possible to walk around the small town and admire it from the outside!
Walzin Castle – The best hidden castle in Belgium
The Walzin Castle has to be my favourite castle in Belgium. It is located near Dinant and overlooks the Lesse. Construction of the castle began in the 13th Century and it was completely rebuilt after the French army burned it down in 1554.
The castle itself is private domain and it’s not possible to visit it. However, this should not hold you back from taking a day trip to this area! Cause did you know that the Castle of Vêves is only 15 minutes driving away?
One of the most popular Summer activities in the area is to go down the Lesse with a kayak. This way you will float past the Walzin castle and make a quick stop here!
The Faulx-les-Tombes Castle is one of the most beautiful romantic castles in Belgium and is only 9km from Namur. It was originally built in the 10th century as a strong fortress proudly rising to the sky. But today, little remains of this fortress structure. Over the next centuries ownership of the castle went from one family to the other and between 1867 and 1872 the castle was reconstructed by the same architect responsible for many landmarks in Brussels such as Petit Sablon, the Belgian Parliament and the National Bank.
In 1961 a fire destroyed the castle but it was fully restored and in 1972 ownership belonged to the municipality of Etterbeek, who used the castle for school trips and tourism. Not long after that it was transformed into a hotel but this business went bankrupt and ever since 1988 it is private property. The Faulx-les-Tombes Castle is not open for visiting but it is very close to the main road and can be admired from there.
The Liegnon Castle was built in the 19th century and can be found close to Ciney. It was built according to the analogy of our calendar and has 365 windows (365 days), 4 towers (4 seasons), 52 rooms (52 weeks) and 12 staircases (12 months). It is mostly known under it’s nickname of “Le Château des milles fenêtres”: The Castle with a thousand windows.
These days the Leignon Castle is owned by Albert Karaziwan, the CEO of Semlex. The farm and riding school on the contrary were gifted to the AEP by the NMBS (the National Railway Company of Belgium). During the Summer months riding camps are held here for kids.
Leignon castle can not be visited but there are two viewpoints definitely worth checking out! The first can be found while driving to Barcenale, the second when you’re driving from Leignon in the direction of Durbuy.
Beautiful Castles in the Province of Liège
Manoir de Lébioles
Manoir de Lébioles is a castle -like manor house and a luxury hotel located in Creppe near Spa. It is known as “small Versailles of the Ardennes” and a weekend get away here sounds exactly like what the doctor ordered. Lovers of haute cuisine will enjoy the gastronomic restaurant, “Le Manoir de Lébioles”, in which the Chef and his team create inspirational authentic and regional meals for you. The gourmet restaurant is open from Wednesday to Sunday and is available for hotel and external guests.
Besides a breathtaking location and amazing restaurant this hotel also offers a spa where you can completely relax and unwind. You can check there rates here.
Beautiful Castles in the Province of East Flanders
A few years ago my best friend posted a photo of this beautiful castle in Belgium and until this day I still remembered that shot! It goes without saying that I had to visit this little gem myself! You can find the Wissekerke Castle in Bazel in the province East Flanders. The current castle was built in the 15th century and has one of the oldest iron suspension bridges in Europe.
The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park and you enter it through a magnificent gatehouse that will make you feel like you’re in the Middle Ages. Do I hear anyone say ‘hello knight in shining armour?’
Opening hours – The park itself is public domain and is always open. If you want to visit the castle itself here is what you need to know!
- April – September: Tue – Wed – Thu : 1pm to 5pm, Fri: 1pm – 4.30pm, Sun: 2pm to 6pm
- October – March: Tue – Wed – Thu : 1pm to 5pm
- Every last Sunday of the month there is a free tour of the castle from 2.30pm to 4pm
Entrance – €5 (visiting the park is free)
What if I told you that there is a beautiful pink castle in Belgium? I don’t know about you but just the thought of it made me very excited to see it for myself! You can find the Poeke Castle near Aalter, a municipality in the province of East Flanders. If you’re coming from Ghent it takes around 20 minutes by car to reach it.
Poeke Castle is surrounded by a moat and can be reached by crossing a stone bridge both at the front and the back.
In 1977 the castle became the property of the municipality of Aalter and it’s surrounding park was declared a protected landscape in 1978.
Opening hours – The park surrounding the castle is always free to visit. The castle itself can only be visited with a guide. If you wish to do so you have to make a reservation from before. The price for a guide is €25.
You can find this majestic castle in Deinze, only a few minutes driving from Ghent. This medieval fortres was rebuilt in 1595 and is a unique example of the Hispanic-Flemish architectural style that emerged during the Renaissance. Nowadays Ooidonk Castle is home to the 6th Count and Countess t’Kint de Roodenbeke and their 3 children.
It is possible to visit the castle from April 1st until september 15 on Sundays and holidays from 2pm until 5.30pm. Due to the Coronavirus however the park remains closed for now. You can find details about future opening times here.
But even when it’s closed you can still admire this beautiful castle from a little side road! It’s actually the perfect spot to take some beautiful photos!
In 2021 Ooidonk Castle will open it’s doors again to Beauville, an electronic festival held on the castle grounds!
Gravensteen Castle – The Castle of the Counts
I lived in Ghent for over 6 year and had the privilege of admiring this medieval castle every time I went into the city center. You’ll find the Gravensteen Castle behind the beautiful Graslei in the middle of the historic heart of Ghent. Unfortunately this fairytale castle also has a dark side and a troubling past which was often related to political and social history of Ghent. Gravensteen Castle actually used to be a house of torture and injustice.
The current castle was built in 1180 and throughout the centuries served many purposes such as a court, a prison, a home for royalty and even as a cotton factory. Gravensteen Castle was restored in 1885 and now serves as a Museum.
On November 16th 1949, the students in Ghent occupied the castle to protest against the rising cost of beer and every year, the ‘Battle of the Gravensteen castle’ is commemorated.
During the last years some changes have been made to the museum. There is no longer an actual Torture Museum and all of the torture equipment has been put behind iron bars in the dungeon of the castle. There are no longer explanations written next to the torture devices either and the guillotine has been removed.
Opening hours – 10am to 6pm
Entrance – €12
Due to new Covid-19 regulations you now have to buy your tickets online before your visit.
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