This Castle May Look Fit For A Disney Princess, But Its Eerie Interior Tells A Different Story

Snow crunches underfoot as the building’s gothic facade rises up ahead. From a distance, especially in the frosty grip of winter, the Belgian castle looks like a Disney-esque creation – the sort of place you could imagine running around in a big billowy dress. Unfortunately, though, Château Miranda would be quite out of place in a romantic fairytale. If the mysterious-looking castle featured in a ghost story, on the other hand – well, let’s just say a chill might be felt running up and down a few spines.

Castles aren’t that unusual in Belgium, of course. The country is home to plenty of old, beautiful structures dating back centuries. But it costs a lot of money to keep an entire castle in working condition, and that’s cash few people have to hand. So you’ll see a lot of ruins if you ever travel to that part of the world.

It’s unlikely an explorer would have ever stumbled upon Château Miranda by accident. To get to it, you’d have to climb up a dangerous rocky hill and then navigate a dense black forest. You’d be forgiven for thinking something terrible might have lurked there once, cut off from all human contact.

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Or worse… maybe the terrible thing is still there? As you approach the castle it’d be almost impossible not to feel a little dread. The grounds might have been beautiful once, but now they’re overgrown and out-of-control. Everything you lay your eyes on is a mere shadow of the place’s former glory.

The exterior of the castle has been cruelly mistreated as well. But not just by time – by other people, too. There’s graffiti all over the place, and it gives the castle a creepy, post-apocalyptic feel. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you’d have to contend with dangerous crumbling stairs if you wanted to actually go inside the Château Miranda.

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After seeing the mess of the castle up close, most people would probably turn around and go back the other way. There’s no way that place isn’t haunted. But some brave or foolhardy souls have still gone inside, and it’s thanks to them that we can explore the castle from behind the safety of a computer screen.

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So why might this place be haunted? Well, it has a very bloody history. Without the violence of the French Revolution, in fact, it might never have been built at all. One of the potential targets for revolutionaries was the Count of Liedekerke-Beaufort, so he and his relatives had to leave their home and lie low on a Belgian farm.

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Who knows what the Liedekerke-Beauforts must have thought, having to suddenly downgrade to a farm after enjoying a life of luxury for so long. Chances are they probably weren’t happy. But the French Revolution eventually came to its conclusion, and the family began making plans to live in a castle once more.

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In 1866 the family brought in a British construction expert named Edward Milner to make them a new castle. Milner just so happened to be one of the more celebrated architects of the era. He’s perhaps most famous today as one of the brains behind London’s Crystal Palace.

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Milner began work on the Château Miranda, but unfortunately he passed away in 1884 before its completion. Another builder, a Frenchman called Pelchner, then took over the work. The Château Miranda took a long time to construct: the clock tower wasn’t erected until 1903, and it would be another four years before work on the castle came to an end.

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By this point, though, World War One was just around the corner. It seemed the Liedekerke-Beauforts just couldn’t catch a break. German troops marched through Belgium and were met with armed resistance. Château Miranda seems to have sat this one out – it was during World War Two when the most trouble came its way.

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Once more German soldiers marched into Belgium. And one of the most famous battles of World War Two, the Battle of the Bulge, took place around the Ardennes where Château Miranda stood. This fight continued from mid-December 1944 right the way through until the end of January 1945. And it was immensely bloody.

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In fact, the Battle of the Bulge was one of the toughest for the American army during the whole of World War Two. There were in excess of 100,000 U.S. casualties. Among the men who fought was author Kurt Vonnegut, and his time on the Belgian battlefield would inspire his 1960s classic Slaughterhouse-Five.

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The fighting destroyed a lot of the area around Château Miranda. Charley Valera’s 2016 book My Father’s War: Memories from Our Honored WWII Soldiers quotes a man who was there as saying, “Did you ever see land when a tornado’s come through? Did you ever see trees and stuff, twisted and broken off? The whole friggin’ forest was like that.”

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German troops moved into the castle at one point and began using it as a barracks. That alone qualifies Château Miranda as having historical significance, and probably created a few more ghosts if you believe in that sort of thing. But eventually the war was over and the castle had survived, for the time being at least.

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After that, the National Railway Company of Belgium purchased the castle and turned it into a center for sick children. It renamed the place the Château de Noisy and built swimming facilities and a soccer pitch on the property, although the kids were expected to behave well at all times.

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By the 1970s the place had changed again, this time into an outdoor kids’ vacation center. This would last for a decade, but by that point the place was beginning to fall into disrepair. Though the proprietors tried their utmost to restore it, the price of modernizing the building turned out to be too great.

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By 1991 the owners of Château Miranda had called it a day and left the castle. Though they attempted to source investment to redevelop the site as a hotel, none was secured. To be fair, it would have been hard to locate people who had the vast amounts of money needed for such a task.

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Bad luck just kept happening when it came to the Château Miranda. Who knows, perhaps it was cursed. In 1995 the building suffered a blaze that destroyed an entire wing, and once more no-one had the money to fix it. What started the blaze is still unclear, as the Liedekerke-Beauforts reportedly failed to look into the incident.

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Instead, the Liedekerke-Beauforts decided to strip the place of its most valuable assets. The marble decorations and fireplaces were taken out, with some of them being shipped to an Italian château. The old building just sat there, a relic of past times, as the whole world changed around it.

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But then something happened – the rise of urban exploration. People were using the internet to discover fascinating old buildings they could go and photograph, and Château Miranda was one of them. Though bad weather caused further damage to the castle during 2006, even that didn’t put people off.

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Not everyone was going into the castle with good intentions, unfortunately. There was the graffiti on the walls, of course, but visitors reportedly did much worse than that. Apparently some men once went to the place carrying sledgehammers and caused immense damage to the already dilapidated castle interior.

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Of course, the biggest issue with all this is that it could very well lead to a person’s death. One misplaced step, one crumbling wall, and seriously injury might be the result. Proper urban explorers will take precautions, but that still doesn’t stop pure luck playing a part. And the Liedekerke-Beauforts appeared well aware of this issue.

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The owners made security arrangements for the place, and some pretty intense ones by all accounts. Police officers also apparently tried to keep people off the surrounding roads and security guards were hired as well. There are even stories of the guards shooting at trespassers sometimes.

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But this didn’t prove to be as big a deterrent as the family might have liked. Château Miranda was just too interesting to ignore, it seems. Imagine being there – nothing but crumbling walls, shattered windows and the ticking of the still-functioning clock. It would be like wandering through the start of a horror movie.

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The producers of a horror show actually did take an interest in the place. In 2015 the TV series Hannibal used the Château Miranda as a filming location. For a little while the decaying building served as the Lithuanian Castle Lecter, the ancestral home of the thankfully fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

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For those who continued to break in after that, they would have found no murderers but quite a depressing scene. Everything valuable had been taken away, and only ruins remained on the inside. Countless acts of vandalism had taken place. There was still beauty in the site, but things could have been so much different.

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Then in 2013 the building’s final owner, Count Liedekerke-Beaufort, began proceedings to have the Château Miranda torn down. This news didn’t go down well, though, and an online petition quickly sprang up. A statement read, “It is scandalous to see such a building deteriorate over time without the public authorities doing something to preserve it.”

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For a while it seemed like the petition might work. The castle gained a stay of execution until 2015 and there was debate about whether or not to give the site protected status. But in 2016 the newspaper Le Figaro reported, “People are saying that the Count wants his descendants to finally ‘have some peace.’ Clearly, the affluence provoked by the majesty of the site just didn’t do it for him.”

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So people began making footage of the building while they still could. In January 2017 a YouTuber called Lostworld EXP 1P took some shots of the building’s interior. One feature in particular stood out: the beautiful cobalt-blue ceilings in one room appeared almost untouched by the ravages of time.

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In fact, the bold colors of the castle had survived despite everything. One room, though splattered all over with obscene graffiti, looked as brightly colored as the day it was first painted. There were red and blue ceilings that still shone down. And some beautiful stonemasonry was still in place as well.

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It was the little details that made Château Miranda what it was. The grand blue ceiling in the hall was slowly disintegrating, but as parts of it had fallen away it had gained a new character. If you lay on the floor and looked up at it from below, you could almost imagine you were staring at the night sky.

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Unfortunately, though, even at the time of that video demolition had already started. The grand towers of the building had already gone, for instance. People expressed their dismay in the comments section of the YouTube video, but there was very little they could do. Soon the beautiful carved ceilings and fine stone pillars would all have vanished.

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It was such a heart-wrenching prospect because of the deep sense of history surrounding Château Miranda. Upon walking around it, whether you believed in the supernatural or not, you would certainly feel the ghosts of the past. Rich society ladies, army troops, sick and abandoned children – all had passed through that building.

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In 2017 a photographer named Matthew Hampshire went to see the building, and the following year he spoke to the blog Messy Chic about it. He recalled, “The thing that surprised me most was the heavy state of decay and erosion, floorboards rotting through, whole ceilings collapsed, stone work worn and crumbling to dust.”

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“Every step on some of the stone staircases [was] worn down to a smooth surface through the volume of people that had visited the building,” Hampshire continued. While some people had come into the beautiful building to vandalize it, plenty more had been respectful and left nothing but footsteps.

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In 2017 blogger Byron Hartshorn tried to explain the reasoning behind the planned demolition. Fixing up the castle and making it energy-efficient, he stated, would have been a staggeringly difficult and expensive undertaking. And opening the castle up as a ruin wouldn’t have been allowed due to its dangerous condition.

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The blogger did add, though, for the Château Miranda fans out there, “You can take some heart in that the period architecture, such as the roofs and carvings, are being saved and will likely be repurposed into new structures or used to restore other buildings that are historic and in need of restoration.”

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So maybe the beautiful colored ceilings and stonework survived in part after all and will be seen again one day, albeit somewhere else. But they will never be able to return to Château Miranda. Because by the fall of 2017 the entire building, so long beloved to urban explorers, had been completely torn down.

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To see Château Miranda leave the world forever was a crushing blow for many people. But perhaps the ghosts are still there in some shape or form. Apparently, the castle’s beautiful central clock kept ticking right up till the very end, as everything around it lay ruined… even though no-one ever remembered seeing it being maintained.

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