Castles & Mansions Left for Dead

Darko Nanevski

There is without a doubt, something that is utterly fascinating and wildly surreal about abandoned castles.

Just the sight of those enormous, monumental strongholds gives you a zestful and a chilling feel at the same time. All of those lavish castles that once were have a story to tell, tales from a long-lost era that became romanticized over the centuries.

The era of the nobles and the royal elegant lifestyle, a fortress full of servants and maids, the extravagant costumes and the grandiose ballrooms.

A dreamland of sophistication, naivete, and excess. These castles feel like they are trapped in a time where the ghosts of the past never left and are condemned to roam the hallways forever.

So that’s why just be seeing photos of a decaying castle or being a witness of the slow extinction of those grand buildings makes the experience even more intriguing and frightening.

These are the castles that are inevitably going the direction to be gradually overtaken by nature.

Miranda Castle (Château Miranda), Belgium

Castle Miranda – Back Side. Author: Pel Laurens CC BY 3.0

Castle Miranda – Back Side. Author: Pel Laurens CC BY 3.0

 

 

Castle Miranda – Back Side 2. Author:  Bert Kaufmann CC BY-SA 2.0

Castle Miranda – Back Side 2. Author:  Bert Kaufmann CC BY-SA 2.0

Also known as the as the Noisy Castle this mansion is from the 19th century and belongs to the neo-gothic movement. It was built in 1866 by the British architect Edward Milner for the Liedekerke-Beaufort family, who left their previous home during the French Revolution. But Milner never saw the end of his endeavor, because he died before the castle was finished.  The construction was finally completed in 1907.

The descendants of the Liedekerke-Beaufort family lived in the castle till World War II, when it was occupied by the German forces. After the war, in 1950, it was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium and used as an orphanage and holiday camp for sickly children. It continued to function in this manner until the late 1970s.

Castle Miranda today. Author: zzkt CC BY-SA 2.0

Castle Miranda today. Author: zzkt CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Castle Miranda decaying.Author: zzkt CC BY-SA 2.0

Castle Miranda decaying.Author: zzkt CC BY-SA 2.0

After that, the building continued to lay empty and was completely abandoned in 1991. The family refused to turn it over to the municipality of Celles and their failed attempts to find investors for the property left this gigantic building to its inevitable decayed, derelict state and being vandalized over the years, In June 2016, the mansion has been acquired and was declared off-limits and the demolition began in October 2016.

 

Pidhirtsi Castle, Pidhirtsi, Ukraine

Pidhirtsi Castle yard. Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

Pidhirtsi Castle yard. Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

Built between 1635 and 1640, this fortress was the residence of Lithuanian Commonwealth’s Grand Crown Hetman Stanislaw Koniecpolski.

In 1939 this lavish castle belonged to prince Roman Sanguszko who took many valuables from the mansion and took them to Brazil. Then after World War II  the Soviets had taken over the castle and made it into a tuberculosis sanitarium.

But the most disastrous thing that happened to the castle was the fire in 1956 that lasted for three weeks before it was put out, destroying all of the interiors in the process.

Pidhirtsi Castle outside view. Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

Pidhirtsi Castle outside view. Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

Pidhirtsi Castle, side walls.Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

Pidhirtsi Castle, side walls.Author: Bo&Ko CC BY-SA 2.0

But no matter what has happened, the Pidhirtsi Castle is still regarded as the most valuable of all palace-garden complexes in the eastern borderlands. That’s why is so sad to be seeing it falling apart. The Lviv Gallery of Arts is desperately trying for permission to restore the building because of its historic and architectural value but till this day, there aren’t any visible changes being made.

Woodchester Mansion, Woodchester, Gloucestershire, England

Woodchester Mansion.Author: Stewart Black CC BY 2.0

Woodchester Mansion.Author: Stewart Black CC BY 2.0

What separates the Woodchester mansion from the other two on the list is not just that is deserted, but was never completely finished in the first place.  This unfinished Gothic revival mansion was abandoned in the middle of construction by the workers. The mansion looks complete on the outside, but there are no rooms or floors within.  And it remained in this state since the 1870s.

Woodchester Mansion – unfinished within. Author:  KathrynW1 CC BY-ND 2.0

Woodchester Mansion – unfinished within. Author:  KathrynW1 CC BY-ND 2.0

 

Gargoyle sculpture – Woodchester Mansion. Author:  Smoobs CC BY 2.0

Gargoyle sculpture – Woodchester Mansion. Author:  Smoobs CC BY 2.0

William Leigh, the creator of the mansion, bought the Woodchester Park estate for £100,000 in 1854 and destroyed an already existing house on the site known as “Spring Park” previously owned by the Ducie family.

It’s really a tragedy how come no one invested in this phenomenal estate after all these years. Or to put the mansion to good use.

Today only the parkland around the estate is open to the public and is owned by the National Trust. The Mansion still is off limits, only to be seen and admired from the outside.

 

Mesen Castle, Lede, Belgium

The enormous Mesen Castle was a noble residence in the 18th century and today is considered to be one of the most important estates from that period. This vast estate and mansion were owned by the Marquess of Lede and transferred from generation to generation. The castle’s facade was designed by the Italian architect  Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni and is considered to be one of his major works.

The demolished Mesen Castle.                  Author:  jtroffaes CC BY-SA 2.0

The demolished Mesen Castle.                  Author:  jtroffaes CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Mesen Castle front door.   Author:  jtroffaes CC BY-SA 2.0

Mesen Castle front door.   Author:  jtroffaes CC BY-SA 2.0

After the nobles culture was abolished, the property was bought by a Catholic institution in 1897 which served a very important social function for a brief time.

But the Mesen estate continued to be used for in various forms. First, it was a gin distillery, then a tobacco factory. Became a boarding school for girls after World War I.And finally in 1971, when French education was banned in the Flemish regions, the school was shut down and the castle was abandoned.

It remained abandoned till 2010 when it was demolished.

Besides the fact that the Mesen castle is considered, even to this day to be a very important architectural achievement, the local authorities refused to classify the castle as a monument and let it fall into ruin.