Preiļi Palace was originally built in the early 19th century and the structure was converted between 1860 and 1865 into its present English Neo-Gothic form, also called Tudor style. The interior was destroyed in a February 1978 fire and has not been restored.
The estate was owned by Count Borhs family from 1382 to 1864. It initially contained a castle of the Livonian order, which was devastated by Russian tsar Ivan the terrible at the time of the Russian invasion in the second half of the 16th century, during the Livonian War. The castle was not reconstructed though. Instead, a new palace was built, which was set on fire at the beginning of the 18th century.
A two-storied Neo-Gothic palace was erected on the site in about 1836, according to the architectural project of architects A. Beleckis and G. Schacht. Later, the building was remodelled and a round castle-type turret located at the northeast side was added to the structure. The construction was initiated at the beginning of the 19th century and finished during the 1860s. The third story with a wooden construction for a campanile was built between 1891 and 1910. In February 1978, the palace was burnt down again and for many years remained without a roof.
The Preiļi landscape park covers 41,2 hectares, of which 13,2 are covered by ponds. Some architectural monuments in the park, such as a chapel, stables, the palace itself and the park's main cottage, may be visited. The Preiļi History and Applied Art Museum, opened in 1985, is also part of the Preiļi estate. The museum collection comprises mainly historical items, besides more than 10,000 items created by local and foreign artists.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.