If you’ve ever watched a Disney movie, you’ve probably seen quite a few magical castles. But, did you know that many of those castles were inspired by real castles in Belgium and around Europe? Even if you are not a fan of Disney, visiting a castle is a truly magical experience.
Many countries have some beautiful castles, but there is no country that has more castles than Belgium! They actually hold a world record for the most castles per square meter! There are approximately 3000 castles in Belgium spread over multiple provinces.
You cannot visit all 3000 castles, but there are many that are open for visitors. With so many options, you may not know which castles to visit. This list has gathered some of the top castles in Belgium separated by region, so you can decide which you want to visit on your next trip to the country.
Most Unique Castle In Belgium
With so many castles in Belgium, each with its own piece of history, there is a variety of options to choose from. However, Gravensteen Castle situated in the popular city of Ghent has to be one of the most unique and prominent castles in Belgium. This castle has a good mix of impressive architecture, differentiated history, and level of fame.
Gravensteen Castle – A Castle With A Dark Past
Most of the castles in Belgium were homes to royalty or fortresses, but Gravensteen has quite a dark past. Unlike other castles of Belgium, Gravensteen was actually a prison with areas for torturing people. It was not always such a dark place, it had been a home, a court, and a cotton factory! But, its other faces cannot erase the dark atrocities that happened in the castle.
Today, Gravensteen Castle is a museum for visitors to learn about its history. It’s a great castle to visit for those that love learning about the past. The entrance fee costs 12 euros, but this price may change over time.
Antwerp Region, Belgium Castles
Castle Of Zellaer – A Castle With Many Faces
Located in Bonheiden, the Castle of Zellaer was originally built around the 13th century. Over time it became home to many different families. Each family brought their own touch to the castle, leading to a multitude of renovations that have led to its current facade.
The current style of the Belgian castle is neo-gothic thanks to its renovation in 1885. Luckily, the castle of Zellaer is one of the castles in Belgium that is open to visitors. You have to book a tour here ahead of time as it is not open daily. The park grounds on the other hand are free to enter without needing a tour.
Cleydael Castle – The Alluring Moated Castle
This is one of the most beautiful castles of Belgium, but you (unfortunately) cannot go inside the castle. Cleydael is actually a moated castle, so it is surrounded by a large body of water which makes it such alluring beauty. The gorgeous Cleydael castle has been around since the 14th century, but it has held up its amazing structure and looks over all these years. It’s an awesome spot to take pictures!
Borrekens Castle – A Picturesque Belgian Palace
Time to get your cameras ready! Borrekens Castle is known to be one of the most scenic castles in Belgium, so you have to give it a visit. The castle itself is privately owned and surrounded by a moat, so you cannot enter it. But, the castle is located in a delightful park that is free to visit. Take some food with you and enjoy a picturesque picnic with your friends and family next to the magnificent Borrekens Castle.
Castle Ter Elst – A Castle Left In Ruin
This Belgian castle experience is a bit different from the others on this list. Located in Duffel, Castle Ter Elst is an abandoned castle that is uninhabited. You won’t find many people around the castle ruins, but there will probably be plenty of cute sheep!
Castle Ter Elst is one of Antwerp’s oldest buildings, but sadly it was damaged in World War I. For safety reasons, you cannot go inside the ruins, but there is plenty of greenery around the castle that you can walk around. Don’t worry, you can still get a great view of the castle’s beauty while still staying safe!
Brabant Region, Belgium Castles
Solvay Castle – The Belgian Castle That Was Once A Summer Home
Solvay Castle was first built in 1840 for a Marquis but was then sold to Ernest Solvay in 1893 as a summer home. A castle for a summer home sounds quite nice! It was later given to the Belgian state in the late 1900s, and was open to the public for visits. Solvay is one of many palaces in Belgium that is surrounded by a lush park and spectacular gardens.
With the Covid-19 situation, the visitation rules for Solvay have changed a bit. It is best to visit their website for the most up-to-date information. As of now, entrance is free, so it’s a great activity for those on a budget.
The Castle Of Meldert – A Castle? Or A School?
Located in Meldert, this castle is actually a school! The gorgeous gothic-styled castle was built in 1845 but was then sold in 1957. In an effort to help educate the lower-class population, the castle was converted into a center for education. There were many programs offered here around social work in hopes of bridging the gap between classes.
In 2017, Meldert became one of the castles in Belgium that had one of the most expensive renovations. These updates cost around 2,600,000 euros!
Horst Castle – The Castle Stuck In The Past
One of the best parts about visiting the castles of Belgium is that it feels like you’re traveling back in time. Visiting Horst castle is truly a trip to the past. The Belgian castle has not been touched since 1658, so it looks much different from many of the castles on this list. The moated Horst Castle is a beautiful sight that makes you feel like you were in Belgium in the 1600s. If you’re a history buff, it is a must-see castle in Belgium.
Gaasbeek Castle – A Castle Built As A Fortress
The stunning Gaasbeek Castle is currently being restored but will reopen in 2023. First built in 1240, the castle was built to defend the rulers of Gaabeek from neighboring regions. Though Belgium’s provinces get along well now, that wasn’t always the case.
Like most other castles of Belgium, Gaasbeek is surrounded by a beautiful park that is open to the public. Depending on the season, the castle’s hours could differ, so make sure to check their website before going. Despite its old age, Gaasbeek Castle is one of the best-preserved palaces in Belgium.
Groot-Bijgaarden Castle – A Delight For Flower Enthusiasts
Located in Dilbeek, Groot-Bijgaarden Castle is one of the best castles in Belgium to visit for flower lovers. Each year, the castle hosts a flower show that is filled with beautiful flowers and colors. This event is the only time you can see the castle up close. Outside of that, only the bridge leading to the castle is open to the public.
READ MORE: 30 INTERESTING AND FUN FACTS OF BELGIUM
Namur Region, Belgium Castles
Castle Of Vêves – An Old, But Magnificent Castle
Nestled in the hills of Celles, the castle of Vêves is a magical castle that was built in the 7th century! Since the early 1400s, the same family has owned and lived in the castle. The outside of this Belgian castle has a unique look thanks to its cone-shaped rooftops.
Though the castle is inhabited, it is open to visitors for 8 euros! A private tour will be more expensive, but it is a fantastic way to learn more about the Castle of Vêves and its history.
Carondelet Castle – A Perfectly Preserved Belgian Castle
Carondelet castle is a bit smaller than some of the other castles on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Originally built around the 11th century, Carondelet is one of the best-preserved castles in Belgium!
You may be surprised to find out that you can actually hold events and rent spaces in this Belgian castle! Have a night of royal proportions and spend some time in Carondelet Castle. For more information, contact them through their website.
Walzin Castle – Atop A Cliff Lies This Stunning Castle
If you are visiting the Castle of Vêves, then you have to visit the Walzin castle as well. It’s only 15 minutes away! Walzin was first built in the 13th century but had to be rebuilt due to it being burned down by the French army.
You cannot go into the castle itself, but viewing it from the outside is just as amazing. The castle sits atop a towering cliff, giving Walzin a truly unique and stunning perspective. To get the best view of Walzin, take a kayak trip down the Lesse. You’ll pass right by the Belgian castle and get to bask in all of its glory.
Liège Region, Belgium Castles
Manoir de Lébioles – The Perfect Weekend Getaway
Are you a foodie? Want to dine like royalty? Then visit Manoir de Lébioles! This incredible Belgian castle has become a luxury hotel, spa, and restaurant. No wonder it is known as a mini Versailles!
You don’t have to be a guest at Manoir de Lébioles to enjoy the incredible food of their restaurant. With a range of regional delicacies, it is an awesome place to taste the local cuisine. The restaurant isn’t open daily, so check their website for the most up-to-date information.
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East Flanders, Belgium Castles
Wissekerke Castle – A Medieval Marvel
Located in Baxel, Wissekerke Castle is a beautiful medieval castle that is open for visitors! It only costs 5 euros to visit the Belgian castle, so you can view old architecture up and close for a low price. If you’re a history buff, take a close look at Wissekerke Castle’s iron bridge. It is one of the oldest on the continent – truly an architectural marvel.
Spend the day at Wissekerke Castle by bringing some snacks, and enjoying time relaxing at the castle’s beautiful park. Lunch with a view of a castle? Sounds pretty nice!
Poeke Castle – Pretty In Pink
Each castle has its own thing that makes them unique. But, have you ever heard of the pink castle in Belgium? Poeke Castle is a pretty and pink castle near Aalter that stands out from the rest of the castles in Belgium. The pink palace is open for visitors, but you have to make a reservation before going. Like most other castles, the park surrounding it is free to explore without a guide.
Ooidonk Castle – Fortress Turned Home
Ooidonk Castle has quite an interesting shape. The front appears to be a normal castle, but then it wraps around in a square shape, with a giant garden in the middle. That is because Ooidonk was originally a medieval fortress, modeled after the Flemish architectural style. Luckily, the castle no longer has to protect its people from wars. It is now home to the family of the 6th Count t’Kint and his family.
The castle (and home) is free to visit from April to September on Sundays. Since a family lives there, the visiting schedule for Ooidonk Castle is limited. Check their website for further details before your arrival.
Laarne Castle – A Castle Perfect For Summer Vacations
Only a short distance from Ghent, Laarne Castle is a historical castle that has been around for more than 700 years! Over time, this castle in Belgium became a summer home for many of the nobles that lived in the town. To see this historical masterpiece up and close, you can visit during the months of June and October.
Similar to Ooidonk Castle, it’s only open on Sundays, so make sure to check the website for updates on opening hours. Immerse yourself in Belgium’s history with a visit to Laarne Castle!
West Flanders Region, Belgium Castles
The stunning Wijnendale Castle looks as if it were straight out of a fairytale. It even has a tall tower reminiscent of tales like “Rapunzel.” Wijnendale is surrounded by a moat and lush greenery, giving it a secluded feel. The castle is open from April until October, but check their website for specific dates and times.
Thanks to the greenery around Wijnendale, it is an awesome spot for hiking and trails. If you’re an avid hiker or nature lover, this is the Belgian castle for you to visit.
Rumbeke Castle – All-In-One Castle
A visit to Rumbeke Castle is an all-in-one experience. It has history, gourmet dining, and activities for the kids. Built-in the 16th century, Rumbeke Castle was the motherland of Flanders! Reserve a tour to explore this historical building, or dine at the castle’s restaurant! Eating delicious food in a castle? What could be better than that?
There is a playground close to Rumbeke Castle, so the kids can have fun while you dine and wine in the castle.
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Discovering Beautiful Castles in Belgium
Belgium Castles are unique in that they offer a wide variety of experiences for visitors. You can explore the history and architecture of the castle, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and take part in fun activities for the whole family. What’s more, castles in Belgium are part of the travel experience in this European country and should not be missed!
Belgium is full of breathtaking castles, each with its own offerings. From the pink Poeke Castle to the secluded Wijnendale Castle, there’s a Belgian castle that is bound to mesmerize you.