The Château de Duras was built between 1787 and 1789 and is located in a beautiful area. The castle was built on the location of the original castle of the Counts of Duras, which originates from 1102. The castle grounds cover an area of more than 100 ha, consisting of woods, meadows, fields and orchards. It also includes a watermill and a farm.
The castle was built by the van der Noot family, which includes Henry van der Noot, one of the main landowners in Brabant. Taking place during the time of the French Revolution, the construction of such a landmark was an expensive and risky undertaking. The Dinant architect, G. Henry designed the facade and outbuildings. A striking feature of the façade are the six Ionic columns, which carry a small dome.
For the interior design, G. Henry used many elements commonly found in French buildings and hotels. The large and impressive reception hall is a central feature around which all other rooms are grouped.
In 1902 the castle was almost completely destroyed by a fire, but was immediately rebuilt. During World War II the castle was surprisingly not seized by German troops. At the end of the war, in the year 1945, the castle was deliberately hit by a German V1 rocket. Many rooms were badly damaged because of that attack. Between 1960 and 1962 the castle was completely restored with the support of the Belgian State and the Count of Liederkercke. Earlier, in 1948, the castle was already declared as a protected monument.
Count Jean-Joseph van der Noot married Florence Ruys Scheeren, Countess of Elissem near Landen. One of their children, Louise, got married on April 27, 1803 to Prince Louis de Ligne, son of Charles-Joseph, 7th Prince of Ligne and Princess Franziska of the house of Liechtenstein. They had three children including a son, Eugène, 8th Prince of Ligne (1804–1880), who was a distinguished Belgian statesman. After the death of her husband in 1813, Louise married Count Charles d'Outremont, whose family still in possession of the castle. Several times a year the castle can be visited by the public, and it can be rented for weddings.
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.