The Royal Castle of Ciergnon is a residence and summer retreat of the Belgian Royal Family situated near the town of Ciergnon in the municipality of Houyet, province of Namur.
The domain with its woods, river and vast hunting grounds was acquired in 1840 by King Leopold I of Belgium at the request of his spouse Queen Louise-Marie. At first a hunting lodge was erected on a beautiful terrace overlooking a deep forested valley. The present château was erected later by King Leopold II of Belgium. The edifice was designed by his court architect Alphonse Balat. Since then it has always served as a holiday retreat to the Royal Family. In 1960 it was the venue for the press presentation of King Baudouin's fiancé Dona Fabiola de Mora y Aragon.
More recently the children of Philippe, King of the Belgians, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore were baptised in the chapel of the château.
The Royal Family also owned other castles in the direct vicinity of Ciergnon. Fenffe Castle is still in use as a holiday retreat by the royal family. Ardenne Castle was, according to the wish of King Leopold II, converted into a luxury hotel. It was closed after World War II and destroyed by fire in 1968.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.