Gaasbeek Castle, today a national museum, was erected around 1240 to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the County of Flanders. The castle was destroyed however by Brussels city troops in revenge for the assassination of Everard t'Serclaes, which was commanded by the Lord of Gaasbeek.
At the beginning of the 16th century the Horne family constructed a brick castle on the ruins of the medieval fortress. In 1565 Lamoral, Count of Egmont, acquired the 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 three years later.
In the following centuries the castle was inhabited by several noble families. It obtained its pseudo-medieval appearance as the result of a renovation during the years 1887-1898. The works were executed by the architect Charles Albert and ordered by the Marquis d'Arconati Visconti who owned the castle at that time. His widow Marie Peyrat (d. 1922) donated the castle to the Belgian state, including the art collection and the grounds.
Since 1980 the castle has been owned by the Flemish Community. The castle contains impressive art collections displayed in lavishly decorated historical rooms. A remarkable collection piece is the authentic testament of the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens The castle and its grounds (a park of 50 hectares or 124 acres) are open to the public.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.