Chateau Miranda
(Castle Noisy)
Belgium

“Castle Noisy will soon be silent,” has been the word on the street for some time among the groups of people that seek and photograph abandoned things. In Noisy, Belgium (yes, that’s the real name), a long-abandoned 19th century castle would be flattened very soon.

I decided that I could not leave Belgium without paying a visit.

The castle, also known as Castle Miranda, was built in 1866 for the Liedekerke-Beauforts, a noble family with roots in the military and politics. For unclear reasons, they decided to leave their other residence in nearby Namur, Castle Vevês.

Noisy , although rural, was not ignored by the Nazis when they invaded Belgium in May 1940. The Liedekerke-Beaufort family fled the area and, for a short time, Nazis used the faux fortress as a retreat for army officers.

After the war, the family returned to Castle Vevês, leaving the Noisy estate empty. But in 1958, the family allowed Belgium’s national railway company to convert the castle and grounds into a vacation spot for the children of employees. They remodeled the buildings and grounds with large kitchens, external fire staircases, and management offices. Noisy served this purpose until 1980.

Postcard showing the front of the chateau and the children that lived there at this time, 1980.
Postcard showing the front of the chateau and the children that lived there at this time, 1980.

Since 1980, the castle has suffered uncontrolled fires, extreme water damage, and heavy vandalism. The local government offered to rebuild and reopen the castle, if the Liedekerke-Beaufort family transferred ownership of the grounds, but the deal was declined. In 1991, the building was condemned.

Looking out from a hallway on the third floor where a ceiling and roof should be. I could not stand in the room, as the floor had collapsed into the basement, but I could put my camera out at arm's length and fire a few pictures upward, which is how I came away with this image!
Looking out from a hallway on the third floor where a ceiling and roof should be. I could not stand in the room, as the floor had collapsed into the basement, but I could put my camera out at arm’s length and fire a few pictures upward, which is how I came away with this image!

It was not until 2013 when the demolition order was finally handed down. Since then, unauthorized tourism has increased; although the family turned down the offer to open the property to the public, it seems to have happened anyway. Hundreds of people visit the castle annually.

Camera: Pentax 67. Film: Kodak Ektar 100.
Camera: Pentax 67. Film: Kodak Ektar 100.

When I first poked my head inside the back gate, I was greeted by a Belgian family with two small children who were making their way, albeit cautiously, from room to room. Minutes later, I ran into a gang of British photographers and even a few German stoners.

Behind the grand staircase is this beautifully preserved hallway with medieval-style arches and vivid paint.
Behind the grand staircase is this beautifully preserved hallway with medieval-style arches and vivid paint.

The tourists were as diverse as the rooms. One room would have no floor—water damage. Across the hallway, a room would have no ceiling—fire. Down the hall would be a grand staircase—no stairs. Nearby, ornate fireplaces have been scrapped of every tile, and seemingly most of their bricks. It was like a sculpture worn smooth by the rain, and it bore only the memory of a form—medieval yet ancient.

Although I saw Castle Miranda in what will be remembered as its worst state, I found it inspiring.

Castle Vevês still stands as a tourist attraction and is actively managed by the family.