Monday, 16 May 2016

Gaasbeek Decadence & gardens

The Gaasbeek Castle is a 16th century castle build on the ruins of a 13th century fortified castle erected to defend the Duchy of Brabant from the Duchy of Flanders. It is now owned by the Flemish Community and often hosts temporary exhibition. The castle, the parc around it, and another part of the domain, another parc across the road filled with flowers and others beautiful plants, and on a Sunday, I decided to go visit it, and then to share with you my experience.
It was such a sunny weekend of spring when we decided to go there! It's not far away from Brussels, and you can even reach it by public transport. If you come by car, there's a lot of parking space, so don't worry! Here's me with one of the castle peacock! Awkward smiiiile!
The temporary exhibition I went to see in the Gaasbeek Castle is called Divine Decadence. It's open until the 26th of June 2016, from 10h to 18h (last entry at 17h), every day except on Mondays. I was very intrigued by the name, especially the "decadence" part. I love baroque, kitsch, spectacular, visual experiences, and the title and visual imagery of the adverts for the exhibition convinced me to go and have a look.  The standard price to enter is 10, 1 if you're under 18 and free for children.   
All the windows were blacked out, so you would enter and feel of the exhibition straight away. It's very intriguing, there's a lot of art pieces to see and get an emotional response to, so keep your heart open and enter without judgment. 
I really enjoyed the temporary exhibition. They went for it! No compromise! And they thought about everything! Sound, light, performances, and very high quality artists in a castle that fits perfectly with the theme of decadence. That mix of old paintings, chandeliers, walls, staircases, stones, history with the subversive, sexual, controversial made it a unique experience, and a success for me. The artists that caught my eye were - ancient and contemporary-; Roberto Ferri, Gérard Rancinan, Jan Fabre, Kees Van Dongen, Félicien Rops, 
Because of the dark ambience, the lighting was very weak for I couldn't take of lot of pieces of art in photo, but it made the experience of the physical visit so much more intense. 
My favorite part of the exhibition was definitely the bathrooms. So decadent, sensual, hedonistic, mad, a fantasy that anybody would dream of. I felt like a romanesque Marie-Antoinette would have lived this life, and it was purely magical. The glass bottles, the sparkles, the beautiful ceilings and mirrors, I would have loved to just grab a glass of champagne and live it that nice bath, with baroque music in the background. Fantastic
When you're finished with the visit of the castle, I would advice to stroll around it, go through the park if you have time. It's beautiful, especially during spring, and you'll have amazing views on the castle and water points. Nature is luxuriant there, with amazing varieties of wild flowers and trees. We were very lucky with the weather, and I would have loved to have brought something to picnic! It's the perfect spot. There are also a few treasures in the park, like St Gertrude's chapel and some other architectural locations. The park itself is open from 8h to 20h during spring and summer (April to October), and from 8h to 17h during winter (November to March).

You cross the road, get on this little path, and you will reach the flower garden part. It's also closed on Mondays, and open every other day from May 15th to October 31st. It's also a beautiful piece of nature at the centre of which stands a small castle. All around the park, an amazing number of different flowers are planted, and when the time is right - we were there a bit too early - , they all bloom in a magnificent composition. It was a beautiful Sunday. 

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