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Visiting Alden Biesen Castle and Gardens in Limburg, Belgium

By alison - July 11, 2014 (Updated: February 29, 2016)

Alden Biesen Castle and Gardens in Limburg, Belgium

A gorgeous castle and garden await your visit in Flanders’ Limburg province. Alden Biesen Castle is one of Belgium’s finest and best of all admission is free.

By now, you know Belgium has more castles per square kilometre than anywhere else. You also know we’re obsessed with visiting as many castles as we can. Many of the castles we’ve toured have been in Wallonia, but when we discovered one in Limburg province while visiting Maasmechelen Village, we knew we had to check it out. And boy are we glad we did.

Alden Biesen Castle’s history dates back to the 11th century, although the current buildings are from the 16th century. The castle was one of 12 headquarters of the Teutonic Order of knights and was the showpiece of the region. Its strategic location near the Maas and Rhine rivers gave it vital status from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The French Revolution put an end to Alden Biesen’s heydey. The Teutonic Order was expelled and the castle was auctioned off. It fell into disuse until it was ravaged by fire in 1971. The Belgian government purchased the castle and restored it to its former glory.

Alden Biesen's impressive architecture.

Alden Biesen’s impressive architecture.

These days, Alden Biesen is a cultural centre of the Flemish government with a large conference centre. Events take place throughout the year: art exhibitions, plays, the Fleuramour flower festival, musical performances ranging from rock to opera, a horse show, a Scottish Weekend, even an International Storytelling Festival.

Alden Biesen's grounds host a variety of events.

Alden Biesen’s grounds host a variety of events.

Alden Biesen is also a tourist attraction, with a small free museum explaining the castle’s history. There is a short video in multiple languages (including English) where you can relive the castle’s history.

The small, free, museum at Alden Biesen

The small, free, museum at Alden Biesen

Visitors can also step inside the small and peaceful chapel.

Alden Biesen's tranquil chapel

Alden Biesen’s tranquil chapel

But while the castle’s architecture is lovely, particularly the moated ‘water castle,’ my favourite part of Alden Biesen is the French Garden. This lovely formal garden is absolutely dripping with roses. For one euro, you can enjoy the gardens for as long as you like. We had it entirely to ourselves on a hot summer Sunday.

It's impossible to resist Alden Biesen's beautiful garden

It’s impossible to resist Alden Biesen’s beautiful garden
All this for one euro - Just look at those roses!

All this for one euro – Just look at those roses!

There are also hiking and cycling trails that wind throughout the extensive grounds. The Alden Biesen website offers a variety of guided and unguided walks of varying lengths and themes. (Of course, we like the look of the 16km hike to the wine chateau.) This is also the heart of the Haspengouw fruit-growing region, so blossom walks in the spring are a must! You can even order a picnic basket of regional goodies to be waiting for you on arrival!

Picnic among the cherry trees.

Picnic among the cherry trees.

Should you forget to order your picnic basket in advance, never fear. You can grab a bite to eat in the ‘t Gasthuis restaurant. Our massive salads were more than enough to fuel our explorations of the castle grounds.

There really is salad under all that bacon!

There really is salad under all that bacon!

We can’t think of a better day out than a wander around the Alden Biesen castle grounds, a walk through the flowering fruit trees, a picnic of regional products, and a drink on the shady terrace of t’Gasthuis.

Alden Biesen Castle
Kasteelstraat 6
3740 Bilzen

Alden Biesen Castle and Gardens in Limburg, Belgium

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For more great castle articles, be sure to visit our Castles in Belgium page where you’ll find links to all of the castles in our little country.

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
Today I'm sharing one of my favourite new discoveries in New Brunswick / Nouveau-Brunswick, the Jardin Botanique... https://t.co/fCt4TxYUa9 - 3 hours ago

12 comments

  1. Comment by Michelle - Very Hungry Explorer

    Michelle - Very Hungry Explorer July 11, 2014 at 15:14

    Ooh this looks fantastic! Now I just need the bloody rain to stop so I can go explore.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison July 11, 2014 at 15:44

      I hear that! Fingers crossed the sun will come back next week!

  2. Comment by Mirka

    Mirka July 11, 2014 at 15:34

    technical question – are dogs allowed to the castle grounds – gardens? 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison July 11, 2014 at 15:45

      There should be any problem with dogs on leashes on the walking trails. For the castle garden I doubt dogs would be permitted inside but I don’t know for sure.

  3. Comment by Amy

    Amy July 14, 2014 at 15:43

    Looks like a very lovely day trip!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison July 15, 2014 at 10:32

      It’s a really nice spot! We want to go back and do more walking in the area. So pretty!

  4. Comment by EurotripTips

    EurotripTips July 16, 2014 at 21:18

    Gorgeous photos Alison!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison July 17, 2014 at 11:53

      Thanks! It’s a pretty spot!

  5. Comment by Ivan

    Ivan July 24, 2014 at 16:10

    Great photos. Didn’t know about this castle so it is on my list 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison July 25, 2014 at 10:59

      Thanks Ivan! It’s a beautiful place to visit!

  6. Comment by Nosheen

    Nosheen September 22, 2014 at 19:04

    Wheres the best place to stay near the castle?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison September 23, 2014 at 17:05

      There are a few cities nearby with great small hotels. We particularly enjoyed Tongeren and have a hotel review from that city coming up next week.

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