Video: Inspiration for autumn castle visits


Flanders is awash in castles, which provide an appropriately brooding atmosphere for autumn and winter visits

Castle crawl

The moody weather of autumn and winter is a great time to go castle-sightseeing; stark trees and stormy skies make the gargantuan stone structures seem even more imposing and mysterious.

While some of Flanders’ castles and grand old mansions are closed to the public, many of them can be visited – even in the winter. D’Ursel Castle, for instance – more fairy-tale than frightening – is opening to individual visitors starting next month. On the first Thursday of every month, €15 will get you a warm drink and a guided tour.

Visitors can also see the 17th-century mansion during one of the winter activities that take place there, or stay on the castle grounds in style by booking the former artist atelier, beautifully restored and available for overnight stays of up to eight people.

While Gravensteen (known as the Castle of the Counts in English) isn’t the region’s most authentic castle, it is one of the most beloved. Its location smack dab in the city centre of Ghent assures this, as citizens can’t imagine their city without it.

Which is reasonable – it’s been there for more than 800 years. Restored in the early part of the 20th century in a rather more romanticised style than the original, it’s still a fun place to visit, with museums devoted to medieval weaponry and objects and a comedic audio tour. From 15 December to 6 January, Winter Wonder takes over, with decorations galore and a hologram Viking adventure.

While we find that all the castles in our video are worth a walk-around, do note that the interiors of Arenberg and Duivelsteen are not accessible to visitors. While Ooidonk Castle is open to visitors, it is closed until April.

Photo top: Viron Castle serves as Dilbeek’s town hall but is open to groups of visitors on request