Lost Miracle or Farewell Miranda Castle

Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.
Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.

Why is Belgium so good? Everything is located nearby there: abandoned and preserved medieval castles, abbeys, and palaces. It is only 160 km from Brussels to Bouillon Castle and its counterpart on the French side, the fortress of Sedan. Do you have a sedan in your garage? Well, guess the origin of this word.

We had a great route because Belgium is a country that is known for its magnificent castles. But most of all, Irina, my wife, wanted to see one of them in particular: Château Miranda, the abandoned and dying Château de Noisy. However, everything should be done in its own good time, ladies and gentlemen, otherwise your dream might not come true.

Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.

Miranda Castle is relatively young. It was built in 1866 near the village of Celles as a summer residence of the family of Liedekerke-Beaufort. They lived there until WWII. A portion of the Battle of the Bulge took place on the property, and then the castle was occupied by the Nazis.

After the war, the Liedekerke-Beauforts decided to leave for France, and their luxury castle became an orphanage. Then, from 1958, it was used as a children’s camp. The castle could accommodate over 200 children between the ages of 5 and 14. The large fountain in the back yard was transformed into a swimming pool where many children learned to swim. Probably, the castle got its name, Château de Noisy (Noisy Castle), in those times.

From 1958, Miranda Castle was used as a children's camp.
From 1958, Miranda Castle was used as a children’s camp.

After 1991, Miranda Castle started to deteriorate because maintenance costs of the building were too high. Although the municipality of Celles offered to assume them, the owner, the Count Liedekerke-Beaufort, decided to sell the castle. Simultaneously, he had applied for permission to demolish it, and was granted it in 2015.

The news had gone totally unnoticed even for the locals. “I was very surprised when I found out about this,” said Alain Maes from the Aresno Association, the campaign for the preservation of Noisy Castle. The costs for its restoration were excessive: between 15 and 25 million euro. ASBL (Association internationale sans but lucratif) started to look for private investors who would be ready to transform the building into a hotel, for example, but to no avail.

Unfortunately, the Count didn’t want to hand over the castle to the state. Just imagine how many people could thank him for this many decades later. There were precedents in history, including in Belgium, but…. The castle fell into ruins and constituted a real danger for all those who continued to visit it illegally. According to the Count, that was a reason he began the process of demolition two years ago.

The view of Château de Vêves from the ruins of Miranda Castle.
The view of Château de Vêves from the ruins of Miranda Castle.

Ruins of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

Ruins of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

Ruins of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

Just several decades ago, everything there was luxurious. OK, you couldn’t fully restore Miranda, but you could preserve its picturesque ruins. Another castle, Veves, is located one kilometer from Miranda. They have one owner. Two castles and two catastrophically different destinies!

The view of Château de Vêves from the ruins of Miranda Castle.
The view of Château de Vêves from Miranda Castle.

The backyard of Miranda Castle, Belgium.
The backyard of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

A coat of arms, Miranda Castle, Belgium.
A coat of arms.

The central tower of Miranda Castle, Belgium.
The central tower of Miranda Castle.

If you like historic ruins, you couldn’t miss the pictures of Miranda Castle in the Internet. Its architecture was magical. Several years ago, Tribune de Geneve called Miranda one of the most beautiful abandoned places of the world which must be preserved for descendants.

Irina refused to believe that such a miracle could be swept away by a bulldozer.

From the Internet:

    • They want to demolish Miranda Castle, the most gorgeous fairy tale castle in the world!
    • Miranda Castle is to be destroyed in October 2017.
    • Yesterday, 09.25.2017, Château Miranda was turned into a pile of stones. Only the central tower is standing almost vertical, but unfortunately not for long.
    • The demolition of the Neo-Gothic castle of Miranda in Celles, province of Namur, Belgium, in the region of the Ardennes, started in October 2016. In October 2017, the castle was completely destroyed.

The backyard of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

Ruins of Miranda Castle, Belgium.

Miranda Castle, Belgium. Demolished in 2017.

That time in Belgium, we didn’t stay in our favorite city of Bruges. Irina surprised me by her choice: the small town of Dinant in the province of Namur. What a beautiful place: an apartment in front of a prison and just 30 km from the biggest nuclear station in Belgium. However, I have to admit we weren’t disappointed. Our temporary home turned out to be as cozy, calm, and comfortable as Dinant itself.

Early in the morning, we headed to the village of Celles and were at the place in 10 minutes. The village was still sleeping. We had driven around Parc de Noisy twice to find a former main drive of the estate of Miranda. All the area was fenced with barbed wire. The former central gate was closed. Somebody had hung a handwritten sign “Farewell Miranda.” Other signs on the trees inside the fence depicted dogs and men with rifles.

The former entrance to Miranda Castle, Belgium, that was demolished in 2017.

Throughout human history, women were careful not to do anything reckless. Having a family, children, and home, they weren’t ready to risk all for a dream or an idea. Men were ready (remember Columbus?) Everything was reversed that day. Irina was ready to storm the fence and, escaping possible bullets and dogs (as it turned out later, she even had an electronic dog repellent with her), verify that Miranda Castle doesn’t exist anymore, but I protested and reminded her of family, children, home, and the possibility of having to move to the prison right in front of our house in Dinant.

I understood that being fed up with uninvited visitors, the owner could hire an armed watchman with a dog. But would he open fire without warning? I managed to persuade Irina not to test it.

Please, watch this short video to say, “Farewell Miranda.”

This post in Russian.

More about Belgium:

An Ideal Vacation in Europe: Dinant, Belgium
November, Belgium, Antwerp. Rubens, Churches, and Diamonds
Brugge: Capital of Chocoholics and the Best City in the World

61 thoughts on “Lost Miracle or Farewell Miranda Castle

  1. This old castle I would like to visit because I have read about it, seen movies about it. Anything about World War II I am interest in because it’s closer to my age. My father was in the Navy and never seen any of the these old sites. I am a huge fan of the movie, Band of Brothers and have often wanted to visit some of those sites they fought on. Sad to see that old castle with such rich history destroyed. But then again, there is life in the stories of those who lived there, especially when it was a home for children. Think I will look into it and see what I can find about some of those children.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no! How sad!
    I really dislike historical buildings being destroyed as it’s a symbol of our past, and you’ll never be able to recreate the way that they were made at the time. I don’t blame Irina in the least as I’d probably do the same. In fact, it makes me feel pretty angry now!

    I understand that for the owner “it wasn’t worth keeping” or perhaps, he wanted to sell the land, but he shouldn’t have destroyed it, but rather turned it into a museum ruin, or handed it over to the State for posterity, and his name known forever!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Victoria.
      In fact, the name of the Count Liedekerke-Beaufort will be known forever just like the name of Herostratus, a 4th-century BC Greek arsonist, who destroyed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad story Victor. What would the world be like without all these beautiful old monuments? I think of some places around the world that wouldn’t be worth visiting at all if it wasn’t for 1 or 2 highlights. Why would anyone visiting the hellhole that is Bangkok if it wasn’t for the Grand Palace, Wat Po or Wat Arun. Lose those and the world is just the crap that humanity constructs these days. I think preserving these pieces of history is very important.
    Touching piece, nicely written.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love your theory about the origin of Château de Noisy’s name, Victor — but how heartbreaking that Miranda couldn’t be saved. I’m glad you and your wife didn’t take your chances against the armed men and dogs, though … because who wants to spend their holiday in hospital, being treated for dog bites? 🙂 Thank you for this wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. it’s such a pity to be a witness to such horrible human behavior. Yes, you could let it crumble to pieces if there isn’t enough money to restore it.
    But humans have better put money into armaments go get ready for wars, instead of thinking about preserving the glorious past.
    You have such beauties all around Europe (chateaux de la Loire, in England, eastern countries…), you find some medieval as well (we have 3 of them in Bellinzona -privileged as world heritage from UNESCO-) I saw many in southern France as well (in despicable conditions, more “ruined” than castles)…
    Thank you, Victor, for sharing such profound memories, which give us to think about a lot! Hugs and all the best

    Liked by 1 person

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