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.
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.