Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chateau De La Hulpe and Gaasbeek Castle near Brussels (Jan 14)

One morning after attending a going away party for a lady who I volunteered with at the American Women's Club in the gift boutique, I decided to check out some castles in the countryside near Brussels. (Remember, I don't have the car often, so when I do, I try to take advantage of it!)

First, I visited the Chateau De La Hulpe which is just on the edge of the Soignes Forest. ("Chateau" means "Castle" in French). It was built by the wealthy Solvay family in 1842 and is sometimes referred to as the "Solvay Cultural Foundation". It was offered to the Belgian State somewhere down the line. I believe the chateau holds important seminars and meetings and occasional opera or theatre events on its beautiful grounds. The chateau and its surroundings are truly a magnificent sight with exceptional natural beauty, where all people, whenever they feel like, can visit for free! While I was there, I noticed a few mothers pushing around their baby carriages and several joggers and walkers, some with dogs, enjoying the vast amount of trails that encompass the enormous park. There are also a few ponds with geese and ducks and I even saw some people horseback riding. Here is a link for more information on the chateau.

Next I drove to Gaasbeek Castle which is near the village of Vlezenbeek, where I also found awhile back the Neuhaus Chocolate Outlet! This castle, which resides in the town of Gaasbeek, was initially built in the 13th century. However, it's been renovated completely for the most part and contains styles and items dating from the 16th and 19th centuries. The Belgian State acquired the property in the early 1900s and since then has given it to the Flemish Community. It has a cute moat and nice walking paths around the castle and beyond, in addition to a beautiful garden area. I really liked the architecture of the castle along with its grounds and plan on taking visitors to see this beautiful structure. I noticed that the inside of the castle is only open from April to October, but one is free to explore the huge park around the castle year round. The town of Gaasbeek is also known for its orchards and famous beers (kriek, lambic and gueuze). Someday I will be going back to check out the Lindeman's Brasserie since I really like their fruity lambic beers, "Framboise and Pecheresse" (raspberry and peach). Here is a link for more information on the Gaasbeek Castle.

Chateau De La Hulpe (built in the 1800s)
The ponds near the Chateau
Chateau De La Hulpe (looks like a mansion)
View of the woods, ponds, and trails surrounding the Chateau
Corner shot of the Chateau
Just messing around with my camera!
Gaasbeek Castle
Gaasbeek Castle up close
One of the Castle's sides as I walking to the back
Another angle of the side of the Castle
There is a moat/pond only in the back of the Castle
Trying to prove that I was there! (I'm not very good at taking photos of myself, plus trying to get some of the background!)
After I did a full circle of the Castle

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