Bouchout Castle is located in the Flemish town of Meise. In the 12th century, this territory of the young Duchy of Brabant was strategically positioned between the County of Flanders and the Berthout family, lords of Grimbergen. Most likely, the first fortification was built by Wouter van Craaynem at the end of the Grimbergen Wars (1150–1170).
At about 1300, the Donjon tower of Bouchout Castle was erected by Daniel van Bouchout, a knight who fought gloriously at the Battle of Worringen. In the 15th and 16th century, Bouchout Castle was owned by the Van der Marck and Transylvan families. The castle fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance, while the Spanish dominance and the iconoclastic fury further worsened its condition.
The first major renovation was performed by Christoffel d"Assonville at about 1600. The rectangular medieval Bouchout Castle was surrounded by a large pond and could only be reached by a long drawbridge. At the end of the 17th century, Peter-Ferdinand Roose transformed the castle into a Renaissance 'Chateau de Bouchout', surrounded with French ornamental gardens. Unfortunately, the castle was partly destroyed during the French Revolution period (1800–1830). Again, the castle was restored in 1832 by count Amadeus de Beauffort, who gave Bouchout Castle its current Neo-Gothic appearance.
From 1879 until 1927, Empress Charlotte of Mexico lived at the Bouchout Domain. Her husband Emperor Maximilian I was executed by Mexican republicans in 1867. Thereafter Charlotte lead a secluded life at Bouchout Castle. Since 1939, the Bouchout Domain has developed into the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Since the last renovation of 1987–1989, the castle and its rooms are now being used for meetings, lectures and exhibitions.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.