Let the past seduce you!
Gaasbeek Castle is located just outside Brussels amidst the gently rolling hills of the Pajottenland. The medieval castle had an eventful past and evolved from a strategic stronghold into a spacious country house. One if its most famous owners was the Count of Egmond. The current building was redesigned in Romantic style at the end of the 19th century thanks to the eccentric Marquise Arconati Visconti .
She decorated the castle as a museum to house her vast art collection and played it like a historical theatre setting. The dream castle which was created at the time is still a bit of a time machine. You can wander through historicising interiors and discover tapestries, paintings, furniture, sculptures and other valuable objects.
A visit to the castle will stimulate all your senses. We aim to offer our visitors an experience that will leave a lasting impression. Surprising exhibitions which creatively translate historical heritage into today's context immerse you in constantly changing settings. Concerts and events are also organised, so there is always something to do around here.
More about the building
The first fortified stronghold was constructed in the mid-13th century to protect Brabant against invasions from Flanders and Hainault, but it was destroyed in 1388. The reconstruction, a few external walls of which can still be seen, took two centuries. During the first quarter of the 17th century, Renaat van Renesse ordered the construction of a French garden, a baroque pavilion and a chapel in the grounds. In 1695 a wing of the castle was shot to pieces by Louis XIV's troops. From 1887 to 1897 the castle was thoroughly restored in Romantic revival style and has survived in this form to the present day. Marquise Arconati Visconti employed the architect Charle Albert for the reconstruction work. This is how the current dream castle came into being. Today, it is, with reason, referred to as the 'Pierrefonds of Flanders'. The building and its historicising interiors together form an exceptional example of how different styles were conceived at the time; the interior was entirely redesigned into a meticulously planned Gesamtkunstwerk. The interiors offer a sampling of architectural revivals, from Gothic Revival, to Renaissance Revival to Rococo Revival.
In 1921, the last owner of the castle grounds, Marquise Arconati Visconti bequeathed the estate with the castle and its entire contents to the Belgian state. Three years later the castle was opened to the public as a museum, as laid down by will. During the 1980 state reform the castle grounds were transferred to the Flemish Community. The Separate Management Service ''Kasteeldomein van Gaasbeek' is currently part of the Agency for Arts and Heritage within the Flemish administration.
2004 saw the opening of a new museum wing in which the Marquise's bathroom, bedroom and 'chambre rouge' were opened to the public.
More about Marquise Arconati Visconti
The castle was/is often used as a setting for films, TV series and commercials, ranging from the very popular 'Johan en de Alverman' in the sixties to recent episodes of 'Zonde van de Zendtijd'... . View a taster 'The Saus of Music' here (Dutch spoken).
To magnify the intensity of a castle visit for the public, olfactory elements are added to the classic visual impulses (viewing the building and the collection): historical perfumes, produced by the respectable Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novalla following ancient recipes, some of which go back to the time of the de Medici, will fill the halls with a scent of mystery and sensuality. History can be smelled as well, we know since Patrick Süsskind, and it really doesn’t have to be a musty experience … Lis Orris, Damascene roses, precious amber and Tuscan herbs take care of that.
Background picture: source www.vlaanderenvanuitdelucht.be