Since 1715, the Chateau of Rixensart has been the residence of the Princes de Mérode. It is almost the only princely chateau in Belgium. It is classified as part of the exceptional heritage of Wallonia.
History and presentation
In the Middle Ages, the city of Rixensart was under the domination of the lords of Limal. It was then owned by the Sombreffe of the Virnembourg family of Roeulx before being taken over by Charles de Garve. It was he who undertook to build the castle that can be admired today. There were four distinct phases from 1631 to 1662. It is a superb example of the Brabant Renaissance style. A tower-porch gives access to the forecourt. Four octagonal corner towers delimit the castle and four emblazoned portals allow one to enter the inner courtyard.
Inside, the decorations are gorgeous with Louis XV and Louis XVI-style furniture, as well as many Flemish tapestries. One can admire a superb collection of Arab weapons that were brought back from Egypt by Gaspard Monge, a French mathematician who was part of Napoleon's expedition in 1798.
The French gardens are just as beautiful. Their design was inspired by those of André Le Nôtre, the famous architect of Louis XIV.
The Chateau of Rixensart once welcomed some very famous residents. One of them was Count Felix de Merode, Marquis de Trelon. He was a very important person during the Belgian Revolution of 1830. He formed part of the National Congress and, as a member of the delegation, he welcomed Leopold Saxe-Coburg-Gotha when he ascended the throne of Belgium.
François Xavier de Mérode (1820 - 1874) was just as famous. He was Archbishop of Mytilene and Minister of Defense of the Vatican from 1860 to 1865.
The Rixensart Chateau is open to the public on weekends and holidays. It can be visited from 2 to 6 pm from April 15th to October 31st.
It is located just a few kilometres south-east of Brussels, in the village of Rixensart, towards Ottignies and Wavre. It can be reached by train from Brussels in just 25 minutes via the Brussels-Luxembourg line.
If travelling by car from Brussels, take the E411 motorway towards Namur and Luxembourg. Exit 4 takes you to Rixensart. The Chateau sits on the Avenue Royale, facing the sports field.