The most beautiful castles in Wallonia: Monceau and wonders (photos)

by Sophie Lagesse

At the heart of a 67-hectare park, the Château de Monceau-sur-Sambre has all the attractions of a fairy tale.

Located just a few minutes from the center of Charleroi, the Château de Monceau-sur-Sambre is a real architectural gem. A fairy tale decor, in a classic style, typically Louis XVI. This U-shaped building flanked by two towers follows the classic model of traditional castles. If its current aspect was given to him at the end of the 18th century, the castle in the past took on many different aspects. A stately home in the 17th and 18th centuries, its gates give access to the entrance pavilion consisting of a 17th century porch and two wings punctuated by a tower.

Destroyed in 1554, the main building was rebuilt after 1607. Belonging in turn to noble families, the castle of Monceau-sur-Sambre will notably be the property of the families of Trazegnies, Hamal and Gavre.

Like any castle, that of Monceau-sur-Sambre is the center of myths and legends. Or stories of witches…

In the 17th century, Marguerite Girardeau, a presumed witch, was imprisoned in a dungeon in one of the towers of the building. The Prince of Grave accuses him of having cast a spell on his stable and of having thus caused the death of his horses. After being subjected to torture and confessing her acts of witchcraft, she was taken to the stake in April 1659. Other facts, but which have never been proven, are also linked to the castle. Contrary to what has been regularly written, it was not the architect André Le Nôtre who created the gardens of the place and Louis XIV would never have stayed at the castle.

In the 19th century, an additional wing was built. It allows the creation of a courtyard of honor. On either side, attached to the gables, are two 18th century pavilions. Constructions carried out at different times which do not however distort the architectural whole of the places.

Until 1938, and the deaths of the Houtart children, the Château de Monceau-sur-Sambre was private property. In 1938, the park and the castle were sold to the commune of Monceau. When the municipalities merged in 1977, it became the property of the city of Charleroi. And since 1989, the castle is a listed monument. Today, it is a place of reception used by the city which has also established some of its municipal and provincial services there.

The Château is not the only interest of a visit to Monceau-sur-Sambre. Its park of more than 67 hectares is home to many magnificent trees. A park that it is also possible to visit with a nature guide. For those who prefer to discover it for themselves, about thirty didactic panels have been installed in the property to discover the different species of trees typical of the region. Renamed Nelson Mandela Park in 2015, it is one of Charleroi’s two arboretums and the busiest in the city.

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The most beautiful castles in Wallonia: Monceau and wonders (photos)

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