Château de la Hulpe, 178 years of history and a charming place
If you like a nice walk (as much as I do) and if you are around Brussels in Belgium, you can stretch your legs on the domain Solvay and admire Chateau de la Hulpe. In present its an exceptional cultural site in Wallonia, Belgium and a former estate of Count Solvay.
You can enjoy many strolls there admiring its lawns, the 1000 rhododendrons, remarkable trees, ponds, alleys and hills. The castle stands on a hill overlooking a lake. It’s a fabulous manor house built by Jean-Jacques Arveuf-Fransquin and Jean François Coppens in 1842. It was remodeled afterwards and it served as the home of the Marquis Maximilien de Béthune. The castle is surrounded by a park that extends on 220 hectares. In 1893 the domain was bought by Ernest Solvay who redesigned the park and renovated the castle from its Flemish neo-renaissance style to a more French-style castle. The rest of the domain was redesigned in the English romantic style with rhododendrons, azaleas and woodlands with a variety of trees including magnificent oaks. The Count Solvay donated the entire property to the Belgium state in 1968 on condition that it should be used for cultural purposes.
I had the chance to go there on many occasions, for concerts, for book fairs, open concerts, picnic with friends, simple nice walks in different moments in time. The castle is not open for public unless a cultural event is organized or unless you are the lucky guest of a cocktail reception or a wedding.
If you are the lucky guest and you are inside the castle you will see that it’s a manor arranged on two floors, on the ground floor there are several rooms some more intimate and small nicely furnished with antiques, some more majestic, a large living room, the dining room and the hall decorated with a magnificent marble staircase. Oh almost forgot, the terraces overlooking the park are perfect to enjoy your cocktail or look at the fireworks. If you go on the upper floor at the end of the stairs you will notice a beautiful Playel piano and in perfect condition; I could not keep my fingers out of that Playel and the acoustique is amazing.
So on regular days, you cannot enter into the castle but you can visit the park, its huge lawns and have a walk around enjoying the serene beauty of the place. You can see horses just behind the castle, ducks, geese, cows, mallards and other birds. Its suitable for families with children, the area is absolutely amazing with several lakes and plenty of space for a picnic.
One thing is for sure, this place never disappoints, all forest pathways lead back to the castle and gardens are kept in perfect state. This domain is full of character, never too crowded and great place to walk on sunny or rainy days.