Gaasbeek Castle, locally known as Kasteel van Gaasbeek, is situated near the village with the same name, in the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish region in Belgium.
Gaasbeek Castle was probably built by a Godfried van Leuven around 1240. Its purpose was to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the Counties of Hainaut and Flanders.
In 1388, a Zweder van Abcoude was Lord of Gaasbeek. He wished to extend his power within the Duchy of Brabant but was opposed by Everard ‘t Serclaes, a patrician and alderman from Brussels. In March of that year the Lord of Gaasbeek had Everard assassinated. In revenge the people of Brussels besieged Gaasbeek Castle and destroyed it.
Around 1500 the castle was owned by the Horne family. They built a new castle on the remnants of the medieval fortress.
In 1565 Lamoral, Count of Egmont, acquired Gaasbeek Castle and its domain, including feudal rights in 17 surrounding villages. Accused of high treason by Philip II of Spain, the Count of Egmont was beheaded 3 years later. Later that century the castle suffered damage from fire and acts of war.
In 1615, Gaasbeek Castle was sold to a René de Renesse de Warfusée. He restored the castle and erected several buildings in the castle park. In 1695, one wing of the castle was destroyed by gunshots from the troops of Louis XIV of France.
At the end of the 18th century, Gaasbeek Castle went to a wealthy family of patricians from Milan, the Arconati Visconti, through marriage. In 1873 Gianmartino, the Marquess d’Arconati Visconti, married the French Marie-Louise Peyrat and they resided in the castle.
Three years later Gianmartino died and Marie became the Marchioness d’Arconati Visconti and heiress of the castle and the family fortune. From 1887 until 1897 she had Gaasbeek Castle rebuilt and turned into the castle we see today, with the help of the architect Charles Albert. Also the present-day interiors date back to her time. In 1921, 2 years before she died, the marquess donated the castle to the Belgian State.
The castle is situated on a slope at the edge of a plateau and it has an irregular, polygonal ground plan. All that remains of the medieval castle are the bases of the buildings, recognizable from the grey stone work. All the brick work dates back to the rebuilding of the 19th century.
At present Gaasbeek Castle is a national museum which can be visited with a guided tour for a small fee. Photography inside the castle is prohibited.
A very nice castle with a worthwhile tour.