The Best 24 Castles to Visit in Belgium (Listed by Popularity)

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Belgium is a beautiful country renowned for its magnificent architecture. Its stunning castles further fortify the splendour of the country. There are more than 3000 castles in Belgium, ranging from forts and citadels to grand mansions.

Belgium has always been an ideal destination for travel in Europe, with around 1.5 billion people visiting Belgium every year. Besides ice cream and chocolates, the castles are the biggest tourist attractions in Belgium. For fans of antiquated architecture and castles, Belgium has some of the most spectacular castles globally. So, if you are wondering where to go for vacation this year, Belgium is the right place for you!

To help you make your trip fun-filled and enjoyable, here is a list of the top ten castles in Belgium. For avid travelers and castle geeks, keep reading for even more castles that are sure to be highlights of your visit.

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Gravensteen

Gravensteen Castle during the golden hour.
Gravensteen Castle during the golden hour. Trougnouf (Benoit Brummer), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Situated in the city of Ghent, this medieval fortified castle is very well preserved. It was built in the 12th century. It was the residence of the House of Flanders until the 14th century. From a noble residence to a repurposed court, a prison, a mint, and even a cotton factory, this castle boasts a vast and varied history that deserves a thorough study. The castle was restored in the 19th century and continues to be one of the famous landmarks of Ghent. 

The highlights of the castle include the moat, its colossal towers, as well as fortifications. It also offers some panoramic views of the surrounding area and houses some of the most intriguing torture instruments of the medieval period. These torture devices are enough to scare you for a lifetime!

2. Miranda Castle

A mystic view of Chateau Miranda
A mystic view of Chateau Miranda. Château Miranda flickr photo by zzkt shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Commissioned by the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family after they’d left their original home in the wake of the French Revolution, this castle is a stunning representation of its kind. It was designed by the English Architect, Edward Milner, and might have been considered a 19th-century Neo-Gothic masterpiece had it not been demolished in 2017. Its conical roofs, 500 windows, and many towers have been preserved in photographs and remain in the hearts of those who visited it when it was open to the public.

Miranda Castle was also the site of the Battle of Bulge, where it was briefly taken over by the German forces. In the 1950s, it was the home of the National Railway Company of Belgium and was even used as a children’s camp till the 70s. It’s a shame that its legacy was not lasting.

  • Location: Celles
  • Time built: 1866
  • Architectural style: Neo-Gothic
  • Touring: Not Allowed. Listed as private property.

3. Bouillon Castle

The entrance to Bouillon Castle.
The entrance to Bouillon Castle. Johan Bakker, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bouillon Castle embraces almost a thousand years of history and is said to be one of the most amazing examples of medieval-era military architecture. The very first mention of this castle dates back to the 10th century, but archeological remains show older occupations. The site was bestowed upon Godfrey of Bouillon by the Holy Roman Emperor (c. 1076), and it was later that he built a keep on it.

Over the course of its existence, Bouillon Castle has changed ownership many times and been steadily added to by each of its patrons – including a heavy artillery addition in the 17th century. Today, the castle’s ridgetop location offers gorgeous views of the town and the river, making it one of the most remarkable castles to have been built in Belgium.

4. Het Steen

The beautiful facade of Het Steen Castle.
The beautiful facade of Het Steen Castle. HET STEEN (2) flickr photo by dcveerle shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The Het Steen is a medieval fortress located in the historical town of Antwerp. It is one of the oldest castles still standing in Belgium, constructed in the 13th century. Locals believe that anyone who wants to get to know the city of Antwerp in earnest should thoroughly acquaint themselves with the history of this castle. Not only is it an excellent introduction to the city itself, but also a visitor center and a cruise terminal.

From the 14th to the 19th century, this castle was used as a prison, but there were standing fortifications on the grounds before this iteration of the castle was built. Towards the end of the 19th century, Het Steen was converted into a museum of archaeology. It also houses the National Maritime Museum and is definitely a must-visit place.

  • Location: Antwerp
  • Time built: 13th century
  • Architectural style: Medieval
  • Touring: Allowed. It is a museum.

5. Bouchout Castle

Perched at the height of 32 meters (35 yards), Bouchout Castle is a 12th century fortification that is known to have played an important role in the origins of one of the States of the Holy Roman Empire, known as the Duchy of Brabant. It was posessed by many notable historical figures over the centuries, but the most notable of them was Charlotte of Belgium. Her ultimately doomed love story with Emperor Maximilian of Mexico is one for the ages.

Bouchout Castle was partially destroyed during the French Revolution. It was further damaged during World War II. It was then restored in the latter half of the twentieth century and even used to host a party by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 2010.

6. Citadel of Namur

The towers of Citadel Namur.
The towers of Citadel Namur. Stronghold flickr photo by photophilde shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Originally constructed during the Roman era, the Citadel of Namur has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. Known as one of Belgium’s most important historical sites, this castle boasts 2000 years of rich history and is quite well-known for being the residence of the Counts of Namur in the Middle Ages.

Today, tourists flock to it to experience all the important historical secrets that it has to share. The extensive underground passage network that runs under the citadel is a fascinating piece of historical architecture, once dubbed “Europe’s Termite Mound” by Napoleon. The underground levels have been recently restored and moving through them really gives one a sense of the true historic depths that the citadel holds. 3D projections along with sound and light show ensure that the tour is top-tier impressive.

7. La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle

The view of La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle from afar.
The view of La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle from afar. LaRocheCastle flickr photo by Ruben Holthuijsen shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The ruins of La Roche-en-Ardenne Castle are situated in a location that has been occupied by humans since Neolithic times. Later, it was occupied by the Romans and even Pepin of Landin in the 8th century. The very first version of this castle was erected by the Count of La Roche in the 9th century. 

Ownership continued to change over the centuries until the decline of the castle in the 17th century. La Roche-en-Ardenne was severely damaged by a lightning-caused fire in the 18th century, and even more so during a bombing in World War II. Today, its ruins stand as a hallmark for excellent military architecture. It’s a souvenir from history left for the modern age, residing snugly in the heart of its nature-oriented surroundings.

8. Rumbeke Castle

The side view of Rumbeke Castle.
The side view of Rumbeke Castle. Velvet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The current iteration of Rumbeke Castle was built in the 16th century, although the site had been occupied by a fort or two in the past. Proudly sitting at an altitude of 25 meters (82 ft), this castle is one of the oldest dwellings of its kind in Belgium. The castle has seen some major historical events, including the Flanders Invasion, the French Revolution, and both World Wars.

Currently considered a classic example of Renaissance architecture, it also acquired some Neo-Classical features after a renovation effort in the 18th century. This is also when the surrounding forest became a part of the Rumbeke estate. The landscape of this forest was fashioned after Prater Park (in Vienna). Presently, it is rented out for occasions and several exhibitions are held on the property throughout the year.

9. Alden Biesen Castle

The view of Alden Biesen Castle from the garden.
The view of Alden Biesen Castle from the garden. Schloss Alden Biesen flickr photo by kimbareimer shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Alden Biesen Castle is one of the most famous castles in the country and possibly the biggest. Initially built in the 11th century by the Knights of the Teutonic Order, the current buildings are from the 16th -18th century. Unfortunately, it burned down in 1971, but the Belgian government bought the castle and restored it.

Today, the castle is home to an international cultural centre and has a beautifully maintained garden. It operates as a historical monument, a center for European operations, and even as a Congress center. The exhibition in the moated castle is definitely a must-visit and one can even take a dreamy bike ride through the gardens after. A famed tourist destination, visitors come here to soak in the historical feel of the place and enjoy its church, gardens, and parks.

10. Bornem Castle

The beautiful view of Bornem Castle and its bridge entrance.
The beautiful view of Bornem Castle. Castle Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde in Bornem flickr photo by Luc.T shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Bornem Castle is a very stunning and historic edifice. It is also known as the Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde Castle. The original building was constructed in the 10th century as a fortification defense against Viking and Norman raids.

The castle that stands today was first built back to the 16th century as a home for the 3rd Baron of Bornem and Lord of Bobadilla, Pedro Coloma. In the 19th century, it changed hands and was purchased by the Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde family, who subsequently demolished and re-built, constructing a new extravagant castle. Today, the 14th Earl of Bornem is the owner of the property and resides there.

A part of the castle has been opened as a museum, and visitors are welcome there. It is a lovely place to visit.

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in Belgium as well:

11. Gaasbeek Castle

The beautiful view of Gaasbeek Castle structure.
The beautiful view of Gaasbeek Castle structure. Herman.vandenbroeck, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gaasbeek Castle is the most popular in Belgium. Built initially in the 13th century and renovated extensively in the 16th century, the Horne royal family owned it. It is now a national museum. 

The castle has an impressive collection of art pieces. The most famous is the authentic testament of the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens. You can also have a look at the medieval furniture, relics, and other treasures displayed there. Its gardens are mesmerizing, they are a popular picnic spot and frequently used for outdoor concerts.

12. Castle Of Freÿr

Freyr Castle's view near the water.
Freyr Castle’s view near the water. Marc Ryckaert (MJJR), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Freÿr Castle is one of the most scenic castles in the country. It was built in the 14th century before being destroyed by the French in the 16th century. It was subsequently restored in the 17th century. Later, in the 18th century, a terraced garden replete with pools, orange trees, and fountains was added. 

The castle has been the residence of the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin since the 18th century. The descendants of the family still reside here to this day, although the castle is also open to the public.

13. Beersel Castle

The view of Beersel Castle towers near the water.
The view of Beersel Castle towers near the water. Alessia Tavcar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beersel is a medieval castle situated in a village of the same name. Built in the 14th century as a fortified base, it was largely destroyed during the War of Succession of Brabant, as well as during the revolt against Maximilian of Austria. The damaged portions were restored after the war.

In the 18th century, the castle was unoccupied until 1928, when it was donated to the League of Friends of Beersel Castle, who restored it and opened it to the public. Today, it is considered one of Belgium’s best-preserved castles.

14. Groot- Bijgaarden Castle

The beautiful architectural details of Groot Bijgaarden Castle.
The beautiful architectural details of Groot Bijgaarden Castle. Michel wal, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Groot-Bijgaarden Castle was constructed in the 12th century, in the municipality of Dilbeek. It used to be the residence of the Almaric Bigard. The original building was demolished, and the current moated castle was constructed in its present Flemish Renaissance style, with red brick and a slate roof. 

The castle and gardens offer panoramic views of the country surrounding it or you can marvel at the interiors of the castle, looking upon its many treasures and art.

15. Château de Belœil

The entrance gate to Château de Belœil.
The entrance gate to Château de Belœil. Cycle tour Mons-Beloeil-Chievres-Mons flickr photo by ines s. shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The Château de Belœil is one of the most picturesque and most visited castles in Belgium. It is considered the Belgian Versailles and has always served as the main residence of the Princes of Ligne.

The castle’s interiors are dotted with beautiful antique furniture and unique collections (including 20,000 books). The landscaped gardens in the castle grounds are a sight to behold. It has been maintained in its original design from the 17th century. The castle is also open to hosting various festivals and events.

16. Chateau De Modave

Chateau De Modave's entrance view on front of the fountain.
Chateau De Modave’s entrance view on the front of the fountain. Q. Keysers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chateau De Modave is located on a rock above the Hoyoux River valley, offering an overwhelming panoramic view of the surrounding nature reserve. 

Just a few of the castle’s owners include the Count de Marchin, Maximilian-Henry of Bavaria, Prince Bishop of Liège, and the families of Montmorency, Lamarche, and Braconier. In 1941, it was bought by the Brussels Intercommunal Water Company for preservation purposes. 

The castle belongs to the Major Heritage of Wallonia today and is open to the public.

17. Boetfort Castle

The beautiful Boetfort Castle.
The beautiful Boetfort Castle. Alessia Tavcar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Previously a walled fortress with a drawbridge, the Boetfort Castle that we see today was commissioned by H. Madoets in the late 16th century. The project was completed in 1610 and changed hands multiple times before finally becoming a wellness hotel.

Today, one can stay at Boetfort Castle in either a classic, superior or deluxe room while enjoying the all-inclusive spa activities that the hotel offers, from massage treatments to saunas to swimming pools.

18. Montaigle Castle

Montaigle Castle's view near the cliff.
Montaigle Castle’s view near the cliff. From https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Falla%C3%ABn,_Montaigle_2.jpg

The beautiful yet imposing ruins of Montaigle Castle are nothing short of poetic. The tall walls may have crumbled at the top, but the sturdy foundations are certainly reminiscent of its glory days. Interestingly, this castle was built on the site of an old Roman fortification. The castle was destroyed by the French King Henry II in the 15th century. 

One can visit the ruins today for a small fee – the romantic and lush surroundings certainly make for a relaxing tour.

19. Annevoie Castle

Annevoie Castle's view near the pond.
Annevoie Castle’s view near the pond. Horst J. Meuter, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This gorgeous castle was built by the behest of famous ironmaster Charles-Alexis de Montpelliert in a classic amalgamation of French, English, and Italian aesthetic. A whopping 10 generations of Montpelliers had lived at Annevoie till the year 2000. 

Architecture aside, the most popular part of this castle is its stunning water gardens. With 50 fountains and 20 ponds, the garden is one of the most picturesque and beautiful ones in all of Belgium. The water itself is channeled from the River Rouillon.

20. Beauvoorde Castle

The bridge entrance to Beauvoorde Castle.
The bridge entrance to Beauvoorde Castle. User:LimoWreck, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The site where the current Beauvoorde Castle stands used to be occupied by another that burned in the Eighty Years’ War. The present version was erected in 1617. Beauvoorde was acquired by the Belgian Estate in the 20th century and was declared a historical monument in 1987. 

Today, you can visit the castle and enjoy a tour with the help of an audio guide. There’s also a heritage shop on the property where you can get cute little souvenirs to remember your Belgian experience by.

21. Le Rœulx Castle

Le Rœulx Castle in front of the gree grounds.
Le Rœulx Castle in front of the green grounds. PMRMaeyaert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As one of the main residences of the House of Croy since the 15th century, Le Rœulx Castle is one of the most magnificent dwellings that you’ll ever see. It was built on the site where many previous fortifications had held strong, but the version that we see today was erected in the 15th century. Le Rœulx is particularly known for hosting the council of war prior to the Battle of Waterloo.

22. Borrekens Castle

The Borrekens Castle view from afar.
The Borrekens Castle view from afar. Sally V, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A cursory glance at Borrekens Castle will have you thinking that it looks like something plucked straight out of a Disney movie. However, its origins date back to the 13th century, long before Walt had ever conceived his own castle. Constructed on the behest of the Van Rotselaar clan, this castle is all fortified towers and is still owned by the descendants of the House of Borrekens.

Since the Borrekens Castle is private property, it is not accessible to the general public.

  • Location: Vorselaar
  • Time built: 13th century
  • Architectural Style: Neo-Gothic
  • Touring: Not allowed. Listed as private property.

23. Castle of Veves

The view of the perfect structure of Castle of Veves.
The view of the perfect structure of Castle of Veves. KarelMeuleman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Veves Castle used to be a classic military fort that burned down and was reconstructed in all its current Renaissance glory, in the 15th century on Louis XV’s orders. However, the foundation of the castle is still ancient and dates back to 670 AD.

The Castle of Veves has been carefully maintained by its various owners over the course of time. Its beautiful surroundings are also well worth a stroll and on a sunny day, you can put up a picnic on the grounds and while away the day.

24. Lavaux-Sainte-Anne

The beautiful facade of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne.
The beautiful facade of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne. SarahVstk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Originally a defensive keep, Lavaux-Sainte-Anne’s mighty architecture survived many sieges before being remodeled into a country manor. Abandoned during the French Revolution, the castle then fell into ruin.

Restoration works were carried out after 1934 by a foundation of the same name. Today, the castle houses 3 museums. One is dedicated to hunting, one to nature, and the Museum of the Lords takes you back to the castle’s medieval heyday. The deer park is another highlight and strolling within the serene surroundings will certainly make for a nice, relaxing day visit.

Conclusion

Belgium is famous for its beautiful cities and historical architecture–namely its well-preserved and glamorous castles. The sheer number of castles dotting both the cities and the rural area, from medieval fortified citadels to imperial palaces and lavish mansions, provides endless options for exploration. 

Plan your itinerary carefully and have fun exploring this beautiful country and its astounding castles. For more information and general guidelines, feel free to browse around our website and contact us in case of any doubt or query.

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Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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