Jul 8, 2011

The Duchess’ castle

On more than one occasion, I was offered the opportunity to shoot in exclusive locations that normally remain inaccessible to mere mortals: a good friend of mine has a very special gift for opening doors to such exquisite sites. This time, he brought us to the Castle of Val-Duchesse (Kasteel van Hertoginnedal), at the outskirts of Brussels, a famous site in recent Belgian and European political history.

DSCF0274wBehind the gates…

_DS74170wThe 18th century castle

The history of Val-Duchesse started in 1262, when Adelaide (Aleydis)of Burgundy, Duchess of Brabant, widow of Henry III, Duke of Brabant founded a priory for women (hence the “Valley of the Duchess” name). It was the first such  priory in the Low
Countries that followed the rule of Saint Dominic; Saint Thomas of Aquin is said to have been a guest there. The priory further flourished and gained considerable wealth thanks to the generous gifts of numerous royal persons and noble families. In 1650 a wall was erected to protect the diverse edifices of the priory.

The present-day castle in Louis XVI style was added as a residence for the prioress in 1780, under the rule of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria. Today the castle is owned by the Belgian Royal Trust, and operated by the federal department of Foreign Affairs.

_DS74199wThe priory’s front side

_DS74174wBack side of the priory, towards the castle

Val-Duchesse has played an important role as a venue for major negotiations in Belgian and European politics after World War II. The castle was the setting for one of the great moments in European history, when in the autumn of 1956 six heads of state (from France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux) met to draft the text of the Treaty of Rome, leading to the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1958.

Also, over the years, countless ‘historical’ decisions have been taken by Belgian leaders meeting in the Val-Duchesse castle. These include the language legislation of 1962-63 (establishing four language areas in Belgium) and the federal government coalition talks in 2007.

_DS73976_82wThe stately entrance hall

Upcoming blog posts will take us through some of the magnificent rooms of the Val-Duchesse castle.

Gear notes: D700, 24-70/2.8, 17-35/2.8 - Fuji X100

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version


Anonymous said...

Mooi prenten van een interessante locatie. Benieuwd naar het vervolg.

Hier niet met de X100, zie ik?


René Delbar said...

Enkel de eerste, bij de poort, is met de X100 gemaakt, Yves. Vooral voor de (nog komende) binnenopnames is de 17mm groothoekstand op mijn D700 meest aangewezen!