Park de Beloeil - Belgium

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>>>Park de Beloeil, the Versailles of Belgium

Name Park de Beloeil
Place Beloeil, Hainaut
Country Belgium
Author(s) Sander Van de Putte
World Heritage not applicable

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Why is this case relevant?

  • The history of Beloeil has always been related to one family: de Lignes. They have been developing the castle but also the gardens around it according to the ideas they got by their friendships with many European monarchs: French gardens, but also English style gardens. The classical garden, started construction in 1515, got is definitive form by Claude-Lamoral II de Ligne who, with the help of French architect Jean-Michel Chevotet, built the big central pond surrounded by ‘a wall of green’ (pruned trees) between 1718 and 1766. Throughout the years several additions where made and extra land was bought to extend the central view with 5km and create a harmonious alternation of water and green of shadow and light of 25 HA large. Between 1769 and 1782 his son, Charles-Joseph de Ligne who had travelled and lived in Versailles for a while, created a park in English style with the help of architect François-Joseph Bélanger. This park was an addition at the castle and not a replacement of the French style garden of his father which he respected a lot. The English garden contains different buildings: A Temple of Morpheus, an artificial ruin and an obelisk. Because of the centuries of development by different owners and architects the park has unique characteristics. The combination of a large French style garden and a smaller English style garden makes the property unique too, as many historical gardens in Europe got often replaced by the more ‘trendier’ styles at the time.

Which idea of ‘design with nature’ guides the design concept of this site?

  • The gardens of Beloeil require a highly intensive maintenance. 10 km of hedges (ca. 55.000 m²), 12 hectares of ponds, mowing grass and so on have to be maintained throughout the year. When the maintenance would be missing, the whole character and style of the gardens would disappear. The many trees and hedges need to be pruned often enough to keep the perspectives in the garden as well as the experience of the style. Nowadays however, it is obvious already that such high maintenance cost an immense amount of money.

Which challenges is this landscape facing?

  • For several years the maintenance has been inadequate which led to a visual impoverishment of the gardens. Recent years the maintenance has been increased again to make up on the damage. Hedges are replaced, pruned or braided again. Yet, some parts are not represented anymore as how they should have looked or have been designed before, so have roses in some parts been replaced by grass to lower the maintenance and lower the costs. Therefor it can be assumed that a lack or decrease of maintenance would be really bad for the appearance of the ‘petit Versailles Belge’ as the garden is also referred to.

What would be your strategy for improvement?

The income generated by the visitors and tourists visiting the castle and the gardens does not suffice. Therefore, a possible improvement would be a higher subsidy or support from organisations or government. With the money the level of maintenance could be increased which could lead to a better preservation of the site, but also would give the possibility to keep or restore the design as it was designed.

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  • J. De Séjournet and R. Pechère 1989: Tuinen in België, Uitgeverij Lannoo (ISBN 90 209 1722 6)

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