Only a stone’s throw from Brussels, Gaasbeek Castle and its grounds are an easy way to escape the city without making too much of an effort.
Closed for three years for major renovations, Gaasbeek Castle reopened its doors to the public on 1 July. Easily accessible by metro to Erasmus, then the 142 bus, Brussels residents are transported to the picturesque rolling hills of Pajottenland.
In an interview for the newsletter of museumPASSmusées, the Castle’s director, Isabel Lowyck, says: “Along with the whole team, we are looking forward to opening our doors again.” The renovations reflect the legacy of its last resident, the Marchioness Arconati Visconti, a patron of the arts, philanthropist and also a great supporter of Alfred Dreyfus; though she was principally resident in Paris, she often spent autumn in Gaasbeek.
Lowyck says: “The Marquise is the central figure in our story. She was a woman with an overflowing imagination, passionate about art and history. For her, the castle was a kind of refuge that allowed her to get away from the hectic life she led in Paris. The building looks like a theater set where the marquise gave free rein to her imagination. Through her correspondence, collection pieces and scientific research, we got to know her better and better and we were able to reconstruct the spaces as she had originally designed them.”
“It should be noted that the pieces in the collection will not return until 2024. This year, we are emphasizing the restoration of the building itself. Thus, you can experience the castle in its purest form and admire details that you have never noticed before.”
From 1 July to 5 November there will be a film expo created by the FC Bergman theatre company. Inspired by photos of the Marquise, there will be short films throughout the castle.
During the summer there is a temporary bar, Bar Bobette, which is named after the Marquise’s pet dog. Under a large lime tree, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a tipple and admire the castle grounds.
It’s just one more reason why it’s worth investing in the museumPASSmusées, at €59 for an annual subscription it is incredibly good value and gives you access to more than 220 museums across Belgium.