Masterpiece of classical architecture, the grey-stone castle of Seneffe is a must see if you are passing in the industrial region of Charleroi-La Louvière.
In 1763, Julien-Ghislain de Pestre (or Depestre), merchant enriched on the trade with the Indies , orders the construction of the castle to the renowned architect Laurent-Benoît Dewez (1731-1812). Upon completion in 1768, Dewez becomes the official architect of the Austrian Netherlands, while Depestre is made count of Seneffe and Turnhout. De Pestre dies in 1774, leaving the interior decoration and layout of the park to the care of his widow and first son.
The castle change hands many times in the 19th century, eventually to be aquired by Franz Philippson, banker and industrialist, in 1909. The Germans used it as a local headquarters during WWII. It was subsequently occupied by the US Army, then turned into a school between 1952 and 1963. The castle of Seneffe was abandoned for 7 years, until the Belgian State decided to purchase it in 1970. One of Europe's most beautiful collection of silverware was given to the French Community of Belgium in 1978, on condition that it was exhibited in Seneffe.
The castle has fine examples of 18th-century parquet, wooden skirting, moulding, furniture and silverware. Works of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau remind that he was one of the honoured guest to the castle.
The renovation of the interior is a great success, and even uses video projections of people in period attire to plunge the visitors in the atmosphere of the 18th century. Explanation sheets are available in several languages (including English) in each room.
The courtyard is lined with classical columns each built in a single piece of grey stone, as well as plaster statues of Roman figures. All we could wish for is that the statues would be restored to their former glories.
The gardens to the right of the castle have been done up completely, unlike those at the back. There are two pavilions in the park, one on each side of the castle. The vast car park has been arranged so as to look like a continuation of the gardens.
Opening Hours & Admission
The castle is open everyday, except Mondays which are not public holidays, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (last admission 5:30 pm). Entry to the castle is 4.96 € for adults, 3.72 € for senior (over 60), youth (12 to 18) and unemployed people (with proof), and free for children under 12 and disabled people.
How to get there
The castle is easily accessed if you have a car. Just take the E19 (Brussels-Mons) till exit 20, or the E42 (Liege-Namur-Mons) till exit 18, then follow the signs for Seneffe, then Seneffe Castle.
Using public transports is a bit more complicated. There are no trains in Seneffe, so you should be go to Manage (e.g. from Charleroi-Sud) or Nivelles (e.g. from Brussels), then take the bus to Seneffe from there. The castle is a few hundreds meters east from the church (there is a big tree-lined alley going straight to the castle from the centre of the village, so you can't miss it).
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