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In the charming polder village of Basel, a grand castle with moat overlooked the Scheldt valley in the 13th century. It was on that same spot that the stately castle of Wissekerke was built. The noble Vilain family lived here for more than two hundred years. In the first half of the 19th century, Viscount Philippe and his consort Zoé de Feltz decided to undertake a visionary reconstruction project in a neo-Gothic style. To achieve this, they engaged the services of well-known architect François Verly.

All the major features of the time were present: an impressive facade, an imposing entrance gate, a beautifully landscaped English park complete with an elegant wrought-iron suspension bridge and an orchard with exotic fruits. A water reservoir for the castle was also built on top of the existing dovecote while an ultra-modern icehouse was constructed below. Numerous Egyptian elements could be found within the castle. The viscountess found inspiration from the empire-style residences of her good friend Napoleon.

Since 1989, the castle has been owned by Kruibeke municipality, who have opened it up to welcome visitors to the estate from the outset. The careful and wide-reaching restoration work was completed in 2022 with a brand new, unique experience trail. Both young and old alike can enjoy an interactive taste of noble life in the 19th century – the glory days of the castle – and experience the fascinating, turbulent spirit of the time. Zoé de Feltz takes visitors on a journey through family history, the birth of Belgium, the tensions that existed between Catholics and Liberals, international politics, and her special bond with Napoleon.

Out and about with Zoé de Feltz

Viscount Philippe Vilain XIIII may well have been mayor of Basel at the age of 21 and assisted with the drafting of the Belgian constitution in 1830, but it is his striking wife Zoé who provides an unforgettable tour.

Through creative projections, three different audio stories, fascinating objects, touchscreens, a digital quiz and soundscapes, Wissekerke castle is transformed into one big time machine. The inviting period rooms, performance rooms and dream rooms extend an invitation to all the senses. Outside, the beautiful 19th-century landscaped park is perfect for a stroll or simply to sit and relax. Memories of days gone by are linked to the stories told inside the castle walls.   

And now, more than ever, Wissekerke Castle remains a special place for local residents while extending a warm welcome to visitors.