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Horst Castle restoration: Now open for visits

Horst Castle restoration

In the quiet heart of the Belgian countryside (the Hageland in Flemish Brabant to be precise), where ancient oaks stretch their gnarled limbs toward the sky, lies Horst Castle. It dates back to the mid-14th century, and is virtually untouched since 1658. Its stone walls have witnessed centuries of secrets, whispered vows, and the ebb and flow of generations. For a detailed description of this place, I point you towards my detailed post on Horst Castle.

Horst Castle restoration can be seen and visited
Horst Castle is located to the east of Leuven

The collapsing latrine

But in 2017, disaster shook the castle to its foundations. Part of a historic latrine crumbled into the earth below. (Fear not, no-one was caught unawares in this delicate and potentially embarrassing moment). The castle’s custodians met with furrowed brows and scribbled furtively on backs of envelopes (or in their Apple MacBooks). They delved into the mysteries of wooden beams, underground foundations, and ancient masonry. Their noble quest? Stability, no less. And thus, with the gravity of historians and the determination of artisans, they decreed: “Horst Castle is in need of a thorough restoration!”

The restoration starts

The castle gates swung shut, the drawbridge was raised. Visitors, once welcomed, were turned away. Yet in 2019, locals passing by beheld a new phenomenon, rising up and over the ancient castle. Scaffolding, like the tower of Babel, reached up to the heavens, but unlike the mythical tower, offered the promise of renewal.

Horst Castle welcomes visitors once more

And so we turn the page to 2024. There are still two full years of restoration to go, but the castle is already emerging from its slumber. “Horst in the Scaffolding” is the rallying cry. It’s calling children and families to clamber up the scaffolding to see for themselves the state of the restoration. Fun programmes await those who dare to enter the castle protected not by full body armour of steel, but with a construction helmet made from plastic.

Expedition Donjon

Imagine ascending the high scaffolding, the wind tousling your hair, and the world spreading out below like a patchwork quilt. Anyone who is six or older can join the ascent. You will be able to glimpse the intricate work of carpenters and stonemasons. And, amidst the ancient stones, come face to face with a deer – a creature with centuries of secrets to share.

Children's programmes to visit Horst Castle restoration
An idea for the coming summer vacation?

Expedition Construction Site

Or why not arm your child with a building kit, full of recycled treasures waiting for new purposes? Watch them roll up their sleeves, bring hammer down on nail as creativity sparks and dreams take shape. Don’t forget to equip them with shoes so they can stand safely on the same ground where knights once jousted and troubadours sang. And if a hammer mistakenly hits a finger, resulting in blood and tears, volunteers stand ready at the first aid post, sticking plasters and tissues in-hand.

Book your Horst Castle Restoration tickets

And so Horst Castle is once more ready to greet you and your little ones. Hurry to Horst on the Scaffolding to book your ticket for the Horst Castle Restoration. The address of the Castle is Horststraat 28, 3220 Holsbeek

What to do in the area

Horst Castle is located in a great area for walking – and I have criss-crossed the region many times. In this post I describe four walks starting from Horst Castle. They are all around the 10 km to 12km in length, but can be shortened (or extended) to meet your time and energy availability. I recommend them all.

Walks from Horst Castle in the Belgian Hageland
Enjoy a walk from and back to the castle

A couple of them stop halfway at the Gempemolen where I once enjoyed a tasty meal and refreshing drink.

While on the subject, there is a delightful restaurant right next to the castle: Het Wagenhuis Horst.

Where to stay near Horst Castle

Thinking of staying longer in the neighbourhood? Why not? It’s the perfect base to explore the countryside of Flemish Brabant (such as the Wijngaardberg, the Vlooyberg Tower, a Hageland vineyard, or Leuven). Here are some cozy, comfortable B&Bs with hosts who will undoubtedly help you enjoy your stay in the Hageland:

  • The Horst Cottage is only a 20-minute walk away from the castle.
  • Landlord bij Leuven is clean, simple and comfortable, and offers a children’s playground too.
  • Villa Helena is a beautiful and luxurious B&B with spacious rooms and a garden to enjoy.
  • Ons Hofke is a recently renovated accommodation offering locally sourced breakfasts.
  • Cabin Morris is a modern house with a rustic Mediterranean ambience located in a peaceful location.

Of course there are many other possibilities in the Hageland. Use this button to select your overnight stay based on your own specific requirements:

14 thoughts on “Horst Castle restoration: Now open for visits”

  1. I visited the castle twice and found it quite charming although lacking furniture. Now I am pleased to hear that it is being restored to its former beauty, a true gem and well worth visiting!

  2. I assume restoration was a no-brainer for a castle that attracted lots of visitors. Wouldn’t have like to be anywhere near the latrine when it collapsed. I’m surprised that children are allowed to visit a construction site, usually considered a dangerous environment for people of all ages.

    1. I believe they are kept away from the locations where work is ongoing Rosaliene. I guess castles have always been dangerous places! Thankfully with the safety regulations these days, rather safer!

  3. Great idea! Hill House in Helensburgh (a Mackintosh house) is now surrounded by a mesh box while it dries out and as part of that you are allowed up onto walkways and can look down on the roof. Not possibly as adventurous as your castle, but a similar idea. It’s wonderful to see something you know well from a different perspective.

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