intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
Are you looking for an interesting, convivial and affordable castle hotel to stay in the Ardenne with your family or friends? The magnificent Château de Harzé, listed as a heritage monument in 1965, will have plenty to appeal to enthusiasts of fortified manor houses and offers many other cultural discoveries, gastronomic treats, and countryside walks. And those who are fascinated by legends and mysteries will not feel left out either. A long time ago, the very beautiful daughter of a country squire was seduced by the young lord of the castle. Alas, this young rake soon left her to go to war. Legend has it that the young girl fell victim to somnambulism, and at night in her sleep, she would roam round the castle walls singing. . . .
Does the ‘Woman in white’ still lull the château’s guests to sleep with her songs of love? © DTVL
Altered many times over the centuries, the château has now been stripped of its fortified elements, but history enthusiasts will still find remains of medieval walls on the site. © Christine Hardy
Harzé is a village set on the borders of the Ardenne and the Calestienne in the Aywaille commune. It is made up of many little hamlets with evocative names such as, Paradis (Paradise), L’Hermiterie or Gibet de Harzé (Gallows of Harzé). This ancient estate in the duchy of Luxembourg saw a succession of some ten dynasties, the oldest of which dates back to the 11th century.
The château may be found within a curve of the route des Ardennes and its origins go back to the late Middle Ages, when the first noble owner built a fortified manor house on a rocky spur of land. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Clermonts, who were descendants of the Walcourt family, built a fortress here that still overlooks the Fond de Harzé and the Wayai, a small stream that powered the old mill. In 1485, the edifice became the property of Adolphe de la Marck, a member of one of the most powerful families in the region. A document dated 1631, records that he added to his status by building a square tower opposite a gallows. The fortress was accessed by a drawbridge and protected by moats, where today, there is a stone bridge.
Château de Harzé as we see it today, dates from the 17th century and for the most part is the work of Count Ernest de Suys de Lynden. Distinguished by the unadorned homogeneity of its limestone exterior, the château is a fine example of the Mosan Renaissance style, consummately attested to by its splendid colonnaded gallery. Apart from the old Prince-Bishops’ palace and the museum of Walloon Life, it is one of the only arcaded galleries of this type in the Liège province. Its fine, elegant proportions and the delicate ornamentation of the old stone are remarkable. The grey-beige, almost white, patina gives a particularly noble aspect to the material.
The splendid colonnaded gallery in the east courtyard is a typical feature of Renaissance architecture in the Liège region. © Christine Hardy
Not far from here, on a lower level, one can see the traces of the old chapel, with its east-facing apse, as one would expect.
The coat of arms of Ernest de Suys and his wife Ernestine de Lynden can be seen above the keystone of the arch at the entrance to the porch. © Christine Hardy
© Château de Harzé
In the 18th century, Count Frederick d’Eynatten erected other buildings among which were a banal (communal) mill and the gatehouse. The gate with its pseudo obelisks has replaced the old drawbridge and is typical of the period. ‘Bookend’ scrolls and half-pilasters flank the central escutcheon that bears the date 1753, and the coat of arms of the Rahier and Berlaymont family. In 1873, Pierre Fermont acquired the château and the attached farm. The property was eventually inherited by Edgard de Potter d’Indoye (1877 –1924), who restored the château and, at the northern end of the estate, built an entrance with two distinctive towers.
It was at this time that the old aula, the great medieval hall, was restored in the Renaissance style. The beams and joists of the ceiling, its beautiful oak wood panelling adorned with lions’ heads and grotesques, the Cordovan-style Mechelen leather hangings, and its imposing 17th century fireplace give the room, known as the ‘Salle des Comtes’, a truly noble atmosphere.
Take time to admire the imposing Flemish-style chandelier –2.80 metre high and weighing 91 kilos– which required the dismantling of 162 parts and 155 hours of restoration work.
The ‘Salle des Comtes’ has four doors set into the panelling. Strangely, a couple of these lead nowhere. Could these be vestiges of a secret passage? © DTVL – photo Club
An end of the 19th century atmosphere in this cosy drawing room, with its heavy furniture, carpets, polished brass, and Chinese porcelain jars. © DTVL
General Ridgway, renowned for his bravery in many conflicts, became NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe in 1952.
The château de Harzé was requisitioned by the allies on 29 October 1944. It served as command post to Major General Matthew B. Ridgway, who commanded the 18th Airborne Corps during the Ardennes offensive. Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery visited Major General Ridgway on 24 December 1944, and was followed four days later by General Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the allied expeditionary forces in the European theatre.
Nowadays, the chateau plays a far more peaceful role. Listed in 1965 by the Commission Royale des Monuments et Sites (Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission), it was acquired by the Province de Liège and carefully restored.
Today, the Château de Harzé is a stately hotel with many attractions and comfortable accommodation. It is a popular venue for residential seminars and for receptions and exhibitions. It is also renowned for its annual cheese festival held in mid-August, which gives pride of place to cheeses from the Walloon region. For food lovers, there is a snug, brick-vaulted restaurant in the depths of the main building; and for family outings, the castle’s outbuildings house a fascinating milling and bakery museum.
The milling and bakery museum hold demonstrations of the milling process every weekend during July and August. © DTVL
Your path should first lead you to the village of Harzé. Behind the castle a steep, narrow lane leads down to the old mill. A little further away, towards the Ardennes, you can see the 19th century Church of Saint Jacques, with baptismal fonts, a statue of Saint Sebastian (school of Jean Del Cour), and a solid silver censer. The church may be visited when services are not being held.
And you may feel a little twinge of nostalgia at the old village cafe that was opened in 1941 by Maurille Lespagnard who welcomed his clients until 2014 when he was one hundred and one years old!
A few kilometres away, the fortified castle, Château de Logne, will delight enthusiasts of medieval history, and chivalric tales (see video). The Domaine de Palogne below offers many sporting activities from country rambles to kayaking down the River Ourthe, and events such as falcon displays.
The ruins of the fortified castle, Château de Logne – the former lair of Guillaume de la Marck, the ‘Sanglier des Ardennes’. © Jean-Pol Grandmont
Ornate diagonal tie in the former keep. © Christine Hardy
There is much more to discover between Ourthe and Amblève. To add zest to your stay, the Domaine de Palogne offers guided historic tours of the area (info and booking: +32 86 21 20 33).
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Château de Harzé
Rue de Bastogne, 1
Tel. +32 4 246 63 63
Fax +32 4 246 63 64
Chateau’s own website
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