I decided to head to Bouillon when I saw a picture of the castle on Facebook. The photo showed the castle at night, and it was stunning. This week offered an opportunity to go, and the castle did not disappoint. From the dungeon’s torture room to the views of the Semois River, it was spectacular.
The Chateau-Fort of Bouillon probably dates to before the tenth century, but there is no proof of that. We do know for certain that it was in the hands of the House of Ardenne until 1096. The Ardenne Duke, Godefroid, sold it that year to finance his part in the first Crusade. When he departed from the Castle headed for Jerusalem, it was with the hopes that he would return and buy it back. Unfortunately for him, in spite of having conquered Jerusalem, he died there in 1100. It is said that he was named “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre” because he refused to wear a king’s crown “where Jesus Christ had worn a crown of thorns.” As a Believer, I find that particular statement startling and confusing; Godefroid held a belief in my God, yet he managed to kill thousands of Jews on his way to Jerusalem and thousands of Muslims when he got there. Hard for me to fathom, but that’s another post, and another blog.
The views from the tower are spectacular. On the one side, the town of Bouillon. On the other, the lovely mountains of the Ardennes region. I visited in late winter, so the trees were not beautiful, but thanks to my maternal great-Aunt Katherine, I learned years ago to appreciate the unique beauty of this season, especially as it allows for views that summer foliage spoils.
This is a trip I recommend. At just under two hours from Brussels or from Mons, it’s worth the journey. There are several brasseries and a tearoom with quiches and sweets and a rich selection of teas. Go. Take your camera. And your love of history.