December 10, 2010

Château de Beersel

A few weeks ago, I visited the Château de Beersel with Frederick, my host dad. It's an old medieval castle, and it's located around 5 kilometers-- a twenty minute or so bike ride-- away from where I live.

I want to share some picures of it-- it was pretty incredible. The weather was very "Belgian"-- misty and gray, which gave the scene a great, if a little creepy, ambience. The castle was built in the early 1300s as a defense castle-- the classic castle you think of when you think of the middle ages. Throughout the years it changed hands repeatedly-- the story is always complicated. At any rate, it was built for war-- built for keeping attackers out and peasants, their livestock, and the noble family safe. Here's some pictures-- they were taken a little bit earlier in the year, which is why things are still really green. It's frosted (and snowed!) a few times already, so now the grass is no longer green like it is in these pictures.

Anyway, here we go...


First of all, I took some pictures of the countryside on the ride to the castle. It was very pretty-- classic European, if you ask me.

Entered into the limits of Beersel, another commune like Linkebeek, located in the little strip of the Flemish region of Belgium between Brabant-Wallon and the Brussels capital region.

This is the first look you have at the castle. You can see the moat under the drawbridge, and straight ahead is the entrance into the courtyard. During the period when this castle was in use, drawbridges like this were built to be burnt if attackers came. That made it much harder (obviously) to get access to the castle.

In the courtyard.
Notice how it's not the old stone castle that you might think of when you think of medieval castles. In fact, you see lots of stone castles in England, but not around here. Here, in the Benelux area, bricks were much easier to make.

We climbed a narrow staircase, and my blurry photo captures somewhat of the creepy feeling-- not quite like a horror movie, but it could be if you think about it too much. Actually, more than anything, it's blurry because there just wasn't very much light, and I avoid using the flash when I can.

We came out onto one of the outside walls. 

We descended a staircase (a lot of them looked like this-- narrow)...

 ...and came into one of the rooms-- you can probably make a guess what went on here.

Yes, it is the torture chamber. This is not at all a castle of prince charming. Take a look at the hooks on the ceiling. Nice, huh?

 We went into one of the three towers-- this is where someone could

Shoot arrows

Or keep watch.

We went back down the stairs, which spiral always in a counter-clockwise direction, so the (right handed) person coming down the stairs can swing his sword freely, while the person going up the stairs has a much harder time.

La toilette. Sympa? 
I'm sure it was a little bit more developed back when it was in use, but still probably not all that comfortable.

You can see that some of the windows still have a little glass left in them. In fact, it was inhabited (and used) up until the mid 1700s.

The view from one of the other towers. The round turrets and stair-stepped roof were built in the early 1700s, if I understood correctly. It was the style back then-- it makes it look a little bit bigger than it actually is, and adds a bit of decoration.

Picture of a staircase without a flash. Pretty dark

Back on the outside, you can get a good view of the full castle.

Notice it only has three towers-- there were four, but the fourth one was built entirely out of wood, and it fell down after the castle was abandoned.

The castle was restored starting in the early 1900s, and today is now controlled by the Koninklijke Vereniging der Historische Woonsteden en Tuinen van België. Catch that? In English it's the "Royal Association of Historic Residences and Gardens in Belgium." They have lights around it and inside it which they turn on in the evenings, making it look a little bit more home-y. 

After a chilly bike ride home, we came home to freshly cooked waffles, cooked by my host mom Aude. It made me happy to not have to live in the 1400s in a drafty castle. 

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see it hasn't changed. I lived in Linkebeek from Jan 1980 to Sept 1985 just off Kleindell and loved going to Beersel Castle. I attended school at St Johns International School in Waterloo. Kind regards. Gail Field