Château of Val Duchesse opens its doors to the public

09 September 2017

To mark the 100th anniversary of its reconstruction and the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Château de Val Duchesse (situated in the municipality of Auderghem, in the south of Brussels, on the edge of the Sonian Forest) will exceptionally open its doors to the public.

In 1915, the last private owner of the site was Baron Charles Dietrich, a stockbroker and vice-consul of Norway. He had decided to rebuild the castle, of which only one wing and the adjacent former mediaeval priory remained. On 8 September 1917 the château, which by that time had been rebuilt, hosted a charitable ball organised by the Spanish ambassador, for Belgian and French war orphans. In 1930, Dietrich bequeathed the estate to the Royal Trust, in order to transform it into a prestigious location to host distinguished visitors when they came to Brussels. After the Second World War, the château was the setting for national and international meetings. The meetings of Val Duchesse, presided over by Paul-Henri Spaak, the then Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, resulted in the texts of the European Treaties, signed on 25 March 1957 in Rome, which created the European Economic Community (the precursor to the European Union) and Euratom.

Here are some of the outstanding features of the site: on the ground floor, the hall is notable due to the quality of the marble used to cover the walls and floors (green marble from Aosta, white marble from Carrara and pink marble from Portugal). The Dutch room is tiled with blue ceramic ware from Delft. The library, which was also Charles Dietrich's office, is in the Flemish neo-Renaissance style. Its covered walls are decorated with various motifs dedicated to the theme of wealth, which alluded to Dietrich's profession in the financial world. The bays opening out onto the park are decorated with glass depicting the proverbs and fables of La Fontaine. A sculpted arcade in white stone separates this room from the Gothic parlour.

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