Since I got myself a car: her name is Tintine, we decided to drive around Brussels and explore. My Flemish friend recommended Castle van Gaasbeek – apparently the most romantic castle of Belgium.
The castle was initially built in 13th century as part of the wider line of defence to protect Brussels but changed it’s style through centuries…
The castle was occupied by a succession of noble families. Lamoraal, Count of Egmond, was one of the chateau’s best-known owners.
Count of Egmond, Governor of Flanders, Commanding Officer of the Spanish army in the Low Countries (Spanish Netherlands), Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, was born in 1522 in Hainaut. He came from the Dutch Egmond family, which had amassed an enormous fortune via lucrative dealings and who were consequently influential in the politics of the Habsburg court. His father was a chamberlain and personal friend of Emperor Charles V on whose side he fought several times.
I like him cause he was he protested against the Spanish Inquisition.
During the Romantic Period, the fascination for the Count of Egmond grew, and he became a popular theme in literature and the arts. He became a national hero in the young Belgian Kingdom and was also acclaimed within the Flemish Movement.
In the late 18th century, the castle became the property of the Italian aristocratic Arconati Visconti family. Gaasbeek Castle became a meeting place for scholars and artists.
Marquise Marie Arconati Visconti, the last Marquise of Gaasbeek Castle. She was the daughter of the French radical socialist, a progressive journalist and member of the French National Assembly. At the age of 33, Marie married a tremendously rich guy named Visconti – an Italian who she met in Paris.
Apperently Visconti spent most of his time in Milano, and Marie studied, she ignored social obligations and refused to behave as a woman of her standing. She rolled her own cigarettes, sometimes wore men’s clothes and used rough language.
Three years after their marriage, Giammartino Visconti died and Marie inherited a gigantic fortune. Marie lived alternately in Paris or in Gaasbeek. In Paris, Marie held political and literary Salons, at which the liberal socialist Léon Gambetta was a key figure. He gave her the nickname ‘the angel of liberalism’. Like her father she abhorred religion, collected art and donated fortunes to scientific research. She punctuated her busy intellectual and urbane life in Paris with long holidays in Gaasbeek Castle. She had a love of history and archives and at times dressed up in page outfits. Together with her adviser, the antiquarian Raoul Duseigneur, she purchased a great many works of art. Duseigneur, who was also Marie’s lover, often stayed with her in Gaasbeek. Basically, the woman lived my life! ❤
Her favourite period was the Renaissance. Really? 🙂 So she restaured the castle according to back 15th century renaissance style.
Shortly after that, the World War I started and she knew she needs to make the testament. The Louvre received her complete collection of mediaeval and renaissance works of art.
The impression of her left some mark to my historic soul. I was walking through her gardens and admire… picturing her soul wandering around the castle…
The evening we spent at the Brasserie Graaf van Egmond. 🙂 We had typical flemmish meal.