Borgharen Castle

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The imposing Borgharen Castle was originally a medieval castle with an eventful history and has been destroyed a number of times. That doesn't always require a war or fire. Decay due to poor management and vacancy can also ensure in a number of years that not much more remains of the old grandeur than a complete ruin with cobwebs as thick as in the castle ofthe Sleeping Beauty. Then a miracle is needed.

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The castle has long been inhabited by noble families from, among others, the Van Haeren family, the Merode house, d'Isendoorn à Blois and de Rosen. The noble residents embellished it several times, for example in 1895 by Pierre Cuypers. He was commissioned, among other things, to erect a beautiful gatehouse as an entrance for distinguished visitors. The last noble resident was Simone, Baroness de Moffarts-Baroness de Rosen de Borgharen (1905-1983), daughter of Jeanne, Baroness de Rosen de Borgharen-Baroness de Selys Longchamps (1881-1944). That sounds fancy.

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In 1975 the castle came into the possession of the Veenhuizen couple. Although Mr. was an antique dealer, and you would expect him to have an eye for heritage, the walls were colored here and there, with old paintings disappearing under the paint, where every now and then a single angel was spared. The original blue-tinted bedroom of the Baroness with stucco by Petrus Gagini was painted over in pink tones. But apparently it was not quite to the taste after these 'improvements', because the couple bought another castle. However, the sale of Borgharen Castle fell off at the last minute, immediately causing enormous financial problems.

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Pink bedroom with the original colors underneath                                 After restoration           

That was solved by completely splitting the castle into all kinds of apartments. Kitchens and bathrooms were laid out everywhere in historic spaces. And when the need became very great, all the wall paintings and other antiquities that could be removed were also sold. Even from the crypt, the skulls of the noble family Isidoorn à Blois disappeared and the bodies were reburied in the garden.

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Apartment 29 in the coach house. The sold partitions have been replaced.
At the back of the now dismantled bath and the hole in the ceiling for the pipes.

In 2003 the owner of the adjacent castle farm, Ronny Bessems, bought the castle for 1 euro. That doesn't seem like much, but there was a restoration report of at least 20 million. With the help of hundreds of volunteers (professionals and amateurs), subsidies and donations, they first started to make the overgrown castle accessible and then to restore it. The canal is almost finished and will then be filled with water from the Kanjel, which flows into the Maas a little further on. Ronny Bessems has also gone on a hunt to retrieve the sold pieces, which has already been done for the wall paintings, stained glass windows, bulkheads from the horse stables. The municipality of Maastricht donated the old furniture of the town hall, which will come into its own very well.

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The murals have been in a hayloft for 20 years and are complete, but in need of restoration. The 3 skulls are also back. The associated bodies have not yet been found.

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The volunteers work every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All due respect for the painstaking work, ranging from chipping off layers of paint, tiles, glue layers and glued or stapled floor coverings from all apartments to the restoration of paintings, fencing by Mathias Soiron, stucco by Petrus Gagini, etc. It will be beautiful. You can see that. But what a huge project!

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Text: Corry de Koster

See also the official website

This story was submitted by Corry de Koster