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.
The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.
British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.
Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.
Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.
On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.