The Provincial Domain of Helecine (Heylissem in Dutch) is located in the middle of the village of the same name, at the boundary of the provinces of Walloon Brabant and Flemish Brabant, just at the linguistic border (hence the bilingual name of the place).
History & Description
The domain was established on the premises of the old Abbey of Heylissem, founded by the Premonstratensian monks in 1129, a mere 9 years after the religious order came into existence.
Pillaged, burnt and destroyed several times, the abbey was always reconstructed, lastly between 1762 and 1780. The only surviving parts of the abbey are the prelature, the church, the stables, the orangery and the farm. The local beer still carries the name of "Abbey of Heylissem".
The handsome neoclassical castle, built in the same period, now overshadows the remains of the abbey. With its 25-window façade on two levels, the castle of Helecine is one of the biggest in the region. The rear façade is sadly not in as good a shape as the front one.
The park surrounding the castle spreads on 28 hectares (70 acres) and comprises a natural reserve. There are three ponds suitable for fishing. Also note the giant sundial and 19th-century ice house.
Admission & activities
The domain is open all year round (opening times vary with the seasons) and admission to the grounds is free. The castle in itself cannot be visited, but rooms can be rented for various types of events, such as receptions, seminars or wedding parties. The largest room can hold up to 500 people.
Numerous outdoor activities are possible, including horse riding, cycling, tennis, mini-golf, pétanque, fishing, picnicking and barbecue.
On a Saturday at the end of June each year, the Montgolfiades (hot air balloon festival) take place in front of the castle.
How to get there
The village of Helecine/Heylissem is very easily accessed by car on the E40 motorway (exit 26), just halfway between Brussels (50km) and Liege (50km).
The village is at the center of the triangle Tienen (Tirlemont), Landen, Jodoigne (Geldenaken), about 5km from each town. Helecine is divided in two parts, known by their Dutch names as Opheylissem (Upper Heylissem) and Neerheylissem (Lower Heylissem). The castle and park are located in the former.
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