Belœil château has been the residence of the Prince de Ligne since the 14th century. The château lies in the middle of a magnificent Baroque garden designed in 1664. The château and gardens can be visited during spring and summer.
Belœil became possession of the Ligne family in 1394. At the beginning of the 15th century the local castle was chosen as the principal residence of the family. The old castle was a fortified rectangular building with a moat surrounding it and had four round towers, one at each angle. This basic structure is still preserved, although the facades and interiors were greatly altered during the following centuries.
From 1664 onward the park, with its straight alleys, geometrical ponds and imposing perspectives was created. The typical bosquets - garden chambers enclosed by high hedges - were preserved in spite of the changing fashion in the 18th and 19th centuries when English landscape gardens were preferred. A small landscape garden with a 'ruin' was installed in the direct vicinity of the château by Charles Joseph, Prince de Ligne.
The fortified castle was adapted into a luxurious country house following the French example. The interiors were appointed with fine furniture and the art collections of the family. During the New Year's celebrations of 1900, disaster struck the castle when it burned down completely. Most of the furnishings, including the library of 20,000 rare volumes and the art collection, were saved. The castle was rebuilt in the following years by the French architect Ernest Sanson, while the interiors were redecorated using pieces from the Ligne collection.References:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.