Last Sunday, I went for a walk at Gaasbeek Castle here in Belgium. Why there? Well, first of all, because I'd heard good things about it; secondly because I seriously needed to explore some more of my own country again.
You see, I need to follow my own advice more. I've spent quite some time traveling abroad the past two months, but it's been ages since I've properly traveled in Belgium.
And don't I always tell you guys that you don't need to take a plane to discover something worthwhile? Right.
When I'm at home in Belgium I often want to go somewhere new during the weekend, but then I think of all the photos that still need editing, all the posts that still need to be written and the social media I have to check. The result is that I usually spend my weekends in front of my laptop, writing about trips more than actually going on them.
Not anymore, though. Last Sunday the weather was too nice to stay in and so I dragged Boyfriend to Gaasbeek Castle with me. Gaasbeek is located close to Brussels, in the Pajottenland, but you'd never guess that when you're driving to the castle. The area is still pretty rural and I'm guessing you need a decent paycheck to live there.
This thought, by the way, was half confirmed when we were walking around on the castle grounds and heard at least five different languages (expats? diplomats?).
Gaasbeek Castle: short history
Gaasbeek Castle was built around 1240. It has known many different owners throughout the centuries and was under siege several times. A couple of those attacks almost lead to the complete destruction of the castle. The last big restoration dates back to the end of the 19th century.
Now, Gaasbeek Castle is a museum and property of the Belgian State. It's one of many castles in Belgium you can visit.
Gaasbeek Castle: park and gardens
The Gaasbeek Castle park was first designed in the 17th century. It offers walkers both wide lanes and narrow paths in between the trees.
The nicest spot, I think, is by the three lakes. There you'll find a lawn perfect for a picnic on a beautiful day.
You can also find several smaller buildings on the castle grounds, like the Chapel of St. Gertrude and this little house.
Unfortunately, we couldn't visit the Museum Garden as you can only visit it with a guide in a group of at least 10, at most 40 people. The tour of the Museum Garden is free, but can only take place at certain times and you need to book it in advance.
Practical information for the Castle of Gaasbeek
Address:By car: There's a big parking lot neat the entrance of the castle grunds
By bus: Take bus 142, direction Gaasbeek-Leerbeek, at Brussels-South (Bruxelles-Midi) until Gaasbeek Castle
By subway: Take line 5 from Brussels to Erasmus Terminus, then take bus 142 direction Gaasbeek-Leerbeek until Gaasbeek Castle.
Please check the website of Gaasbeek Castle for up-to-date opening hours and entrance prices. The park and gardens are free to visit, the museum is not.
Visiting a castle in Flemish Brabant is a bucket list item!
Tourism Flemish Brabant has put together a bucket list of fun and quirky things to do in the province as a local and visiting a castle is on it. Each item has information on where you can go to check it off and once you've done it, you can also literally check it off on the website and keep track of your score. And if you share your progress on Twitter or Facebook, you can win a weekend break.
Pretty cool, right?