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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”