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.

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Address

Nering 7, Beersel, Belgium
See all sites in Beersel

Details

Founded: c. 1420
Category: Castles and fortifications in Belgium

Rating

4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David Steegen (20 months ago)
Nice view beautiful Scenery
andy k (2 years ago)
Extrordinary castle. Lots of birds living inside but still worth the visit. Be extra careful inside building with small children as railings are not secure in some places. Get the guide book, as the history is very interesting.
Luc Trigaux (2 years ago)
Not just another of the hundreds of castles that can be seen in Belgium. Clearly one of my favourites in terms of architecture, although information inside the castle is virtually nonexistent. Seen from the outside it is beautiful and looks like the perfect set for a movie. A brief history of its history and refection is presented on large information boards right before the entrance. Not in English though. The fee is slightly too expensive for a castle that is basically totally empty. There is no furniture, no tapestry, no window panes, no souvenir shop, no toilets, no heating, no surveillance. Only an old used torture table forgotten by its owners in one room under the south tower. But maybe part of the fun in visiting this ghostly castle is due to the very fact that it is completly deserted. The visitors can go through the various towers and rooms as they please, with the wind and the numerous pigeons as they only companions. Those who like spooky places will appreciate.
Leandro Rabbone (2 years ago)
Very nice and funny stop. It doesn't take long time to visit and after all tour is nice and possible to stay inside the park and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere. The price is fair and reasonable.
Matija Penezić (2 years ago)
We went by bike from Flagey. Very scenic ride especially if you avoid the main roads. The castle itself is quite beautiful and looks authentic. It is true that there are a lot of bird droppings on each of upper levels but it is not so bad and you can easily avoid it. The staff is real friendly and very approachable.
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