Miranda Castle: This Gothic Mansion Saw One of the Bloodiest Battles of WWII

Elisabeth Edwards
Photo Credit (Left and right): Tom Blackwell / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Miranda Castle was meant to be an opulent summer home, but it fell into neglect before it was even completed. The neo-gothic castle perched atop a hill overlooking the small town of Celles, Belgium, witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and soon fell into disrepair – sitting empty until the hauntingly beautiful landmark was demolished.

The castle took 40 years to complete

The front facade of the abandoned Miranda Castle show cases its neo-gothic style
The large bell tower at Miranda Castle, which was completed in 1907. (Photo Credit: Bert Kaufmann / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Miranda Castle, also known as the Château Miranda or Château de Noisy, was designed by English architect Edward Milner. Nestled in the wooded Belgium hillside, the mansion was commissioned by Count Liedekerke-De Beaufort as a summer home in 1866. The Liedekerke-De Beaufort family fled their primary home during the French Revolution and settled in the quaint farmland of rural Belgium in 1792.

The grand entry hall in the abandoned Miranda Castle.
The grand entry at Miranda Castle. (Photo Credit: Tom Blackwell / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0)

Unfortunately, Milner died before the castle could be completed and a French architect took over. Built in the neo-gothic style, the imposing structure originally featured stunning gardens and a large tower at the front of the home fitted with turrets. The castle had over 500 windows and the interior featured tall ceilings with gothic, cathedral-style arches.

Opulent cathedral ceilings inside the Miranda Castle
Gothic revival architecture clashes with graffiti at the Miranda Castle, circa 2016. (Photo Credit: Ron Incognito / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The building wasn’t completed until 1907 and was used by the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family as their summer home until World War II ravaged the farmlands of Belgium.

A battlefield turned children’s camp

The castle served as a camp for German soldiers, and part of the infamous Battle of the Bulge also took place on the property. The bloody battle was also known as the Ardennes Offensive, and happened toward the end of the war.

An abandoned classroom
A classroom inside the castle left over from the children’s camps once held there. (Photo Credit: Max Mayorov / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Following the war, the castle was turned into a holiday destination by the National Railway Company of Belgium and renamed Château de Noisy. The ‘camp’ was for sick children who enjoyed a playground, fresh air on the sprawling gardens on the estate, and healthy food. One of the gardens was converted into a swimming pool, and an area between outbuildings became a football field.

A run down parlour room sits abandoned
The parlor at the castle shows the removed hardwood flooring. (Photo Credit: Tom Blackwell / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0)

Life at the holiday camp wasn’t always fun and games. The camp was reportedly run by strict female officials and children had to wear uniforms. It was eventually opened to the public for children to attend and became a well-known summer destination in Belgium until its closure in the 1970s.

Investors couldn’t save the historic landmark

In the 1990s, the cost of keeping the castle from falling into disrepair was growing. The castle’s owners searched for investors to help transform it into a hotel, but the price of maintaining the castle – let alone refurbishing it – was impossible to keep up with. Miranda Castle was abandoned in 1991 and left to rot for 25 years.

A large patch of land where the castle used to be
The demolished site where Miranda Castle once stood. (Photo Credit: Régine Fabri / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

In 1995, a fire caused part of the roof to collapse, which prompted the owner to remove the original hardwood floors as well as the fireplaces and Italian marble fixtures to use in another castle in Italy. The stable was destroyed during a storm in 2006, and graffiti covered the walls of the once-opulent structure. Even though the local community offered to purchase the castle in order to help preserve its history, the owners refused and instead filed a permit to demolish the beautiful heritage building.

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The demolition began in October 2016 – the beautiful building’s 150th anniversary. By 2017, the iconic bell tower was the last part of Miranda Castle to be destroyed, leaving a vacant patch of land where this grand monument once stood.