Walzin Castle: closed to the public, admired from afar by Victor Hugo and Disneyland Paris

Castles of Belgium

Located in the city of Dinant, in Wallonia, a Gothic Revival castle stands on a steep rock above the right bank of the Lesse river. It is the Walzin castle, which in 1863 caught the attention of French writer and draftsman Victor Hugo, who made a drawing of it. Today, thousands of visitors take kayak and hiking routes that allow a view of the castle from the Lesse valley.

The hill castle was already noted in the 11th century when it was built by the Bishop of Liege, Ditvin Theoduin of Bavaria as an observation and defensive point on the way to France. The French army burned the castle down in 1554, but the 15th-century Renaissance horseshoe tower survived the flames. In 1881, the baron Alfred Brugmann had the castle restored in a Spanish-Flemish style by architect Émile Janlet. This version can be seen on postcards and drawings from the Belle Époque.


The castle's current appearance came in 1930, when Baron Frédéric Brugmann de Walzin had the castle rebuilt by architect Octave Flanneau. They chose to follow the Maasland (Mosan art) style, common in the region. The gardens of the castle were designed by architect Louis Julien Breydel, who also signs the Botanical Garden in Brussels.

Sleeping beauties

Today, a Disneyland Paris plaque can be found at the Dinant town hall. The Sleeping Beauty's castle at the entrance to the park has been inspired by the castle of Walzin. "The Disney castle was imagined by its creator based on the castle of Neuschwanstein, built by Ludwig II in Bavaria. However, this castle was built based on the model of the Walzin castle in Dinant," explained Dinant mayor Richard Fournaux in 2013, when he signed a twinning agreement between Dinant and Disneyland Paris. 

Nowadays, the Walzin castle is a private property still "sleeping" for the general public, with no scheduled visits or public events. For the moment, tourists and locals have to keep admiring it from a distance.



Belgium has the largest number of castles per square metre in the world. There are more than 3000 castles, beating even France. Some regions have an average of two castles per village. This week we present some of the most remarkable.





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