When I'm traveling I always try to do some of the must-sees at my destination, but I've noticed that I take just as much pleasure – if not more – in exploring the smaller things.
It's not different when I'm heading out here in Belgium. I'm a big fan of parks where you can relax and wander around. Hof ter Saksen in Beveren, East Flanders (and a 20-minute drive from Antwerp) is such a park.
Park Hof ter Saksen
The Hof ter Saksen in Beveren is a closed park of 13.5 hectare divided into different sections. Top “attraction” is the beautiful 18th-century castle.
18th century, but the history of the building actually starts way before that. At the exact same spot where we can find the castle today, there already stood a building in the Middle Ages that served as a farmer's building and a hostel. Where we would be able to translate the name of the current castle to “Court of the Saxons”, “Hof ter Saksen” is actually a modification of the name of the building that first stood in what's now the park. That building was first called “Het Schaak”, then “Het Goed Schaeckx”, then “Saeckx” and, finally “Hof ter Saksen”. All these names designate some sort of castle or manor.
The castle has recently been renovated, but the city of Beveren has yet to decide what its function will be. Possibilities are to house a restaurant or exhibition rooms in the castle. I'm thinking a combination of both would be great. They could even put up art in the restaurant!
But I'm deviating.
Right by the castle you can find the Orangerie. That has also been renovated and now houses a cafeteria, but it's only open on Sundays and holidays from March until October. The cafeteria sells apple juice made from the apple trees at Hof ter Saksen. Hof ter Saksen has its own 3 hectare-large orchard with 234 trees.
You can walk through the orchard, but you can also visit the nature garden. This garden represents the natural diversity of the region and plants can grow freely here.
My favorite part of the park, though, was the arboretum. You can find tons of different plants and trees here and when I visited, at the beginning of April, they just started to bloom and blossom. I think it must be really beautiful if you come here mid-spring.
Hof ter Saksen
The garden is open:
- March 1 – October 31: every day from 10 am – 8 pm
- November 1 – last day of February: every day except Saturday from 10 am – 4.30 pm