Château d'Hougoumont (originally Goumont) is a large farmhouse situated at the bottom of an escarpment near the Nivelles road in Braine-l'Alleud, where British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.
In 1474 the Order of Saint John bought the area of estate. A building had apparently been erected on the land as it was sold in 1536 to Pierre du Fief, attorney-general to the Council of Brabant, who subsequently enlarged the property considerably. In 1562 the estate became the property of Pierre Quarré and stayed in the Quarré family until 1637 when it was bought by Arnold Schuyl, Lord of Walhorn. It was around this time that the present building was erected.
In June 1815 the chateau became an epicenter of fighting in the Battle of Waterloo as it was one of the first places where British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army.
In his novel Les Misérables, Victor Hugo describes how 300 bodies were thrown down a well at Hougoumont. Several historians have noted that an archaeological dig of the well by Derick Saunders in 1985 turned up no human remains in a well rediscovered at the site. In doing so, they state that it debunks a myth made popular by Hugo.
Hougoumont remained an active farm until the end of the 20th century. In 2003 a settlement was found between Count Guibert d'Oultremont, owner of the farm, and the Regional Authority after which it became the property of the Intercommunale (1815). By June 2006, the farm appeared to be derelict. The walls, which were once near pristine white, have become a dirty yellow. Several walls are cracked and parts are clearly damaged, most notably the right-hand door post of the north side gate.
Project Hougoumont was set up to oversee funding to restore and preserve Hougoumont for the long-term future. The project was completed in June 2015. Charles, Prince of Wales, unveiled a memorial at Hougoumont dedicated to the British soldiers who fought in the battle. The memorial by Vivien Mallock stands next to the north gate and shows two life-size soldiers struggling to close the critical gates of the farm to save it from being overrun by the French. The next day Hougoumont was opened to the public on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.