Like many palaces, Belgium’s Castle Nieuwenhoven has been home to both holy men and nobles but after having expanded and grown for centuries, it is now open to anyone as both a historical treasure and as an art colony.
Originally built (although not to so grand a scale) in the 13th century, the castle was first created to fortify a local farm that was run by monks. Over the years the site was expanded and began to act as a temporary home for visitors from a nearby abbey. For centuries it served as a vacation home for the holy until the onset of the French Revolution which saw the castle fall into the hands of the local nobles.
After falling into the hands of the Baron Maximiliaan Frans Niese, the castle was passed down among his female descendants for generations, constantly being refurbished and rebuilt after fires and time took their toll. Finally in 2007 the property was sold to a private owner who set out to give the space a new purpose.
As opposed to ascetic monks and the stodgy aristocracy the castle’s new owner set out to make the space accessible to the general public. Moreover she put the extra rooms and open courtyard space to new use as small art commune where creators can live and work like royals of a different stripe. Today visitors can not only see the contemporary work of the resident artists, but also the historical beauty of the space itself.