The Castle of the Princes of Chimay
1,000 years of princely history to be discovered via an iPad and a 3D show in an elegantly restored setting.
In Spring 2013, the princely family of Chimay reopened the doors of its ancestral home with a new tour at the cutting edge of innovation. The Castle, which is still inhabited, has been entirely renovated and is situated a few kilometres from Scourmont Abbey, the home of one of the most famous Belgian Trappist beers: Chimay. The castle is a jewel of Hainaut and destined to become, from the 21st of March 2013, one of the most high tech tourist sites in Wallonia.
The castle stands in the heart of the Principality, across from a beautiful collegiate church on an historic square that was restored by the town in 2012. It is an integral part of life in the region and has been continuously occupied for 1,000 years by the ancestors of the princes of Chimay. A succession of four noble families have resided here through often tumultuous times. Enlightened princesses have braved wars, revolutions and even fires to save the home that they loved.
The 5 principal rooms of the Castle are open to the public: the great hall, the guard room, the portrait gallery, the chapel at the foot of the medieval tower and the theatre (classified as an exceptional monument by the Walloon Region). The portrait gallery displays paintings and photographs that trace the Chimay family history and honours those who have left their mark on the castle's history.
The great ladies who have played a major part in the life of this fortress include: Countess Dorothée, wife of the first Count of Chimay, Jean de Croÿ; Princess Theresia, heroine of the French Revolution, nicknamed Our Lady of Thermidor (ex-Mrs Tallien); Princess Emilie, wife of Joseph "the Great Prince", to whom we owe the current theatre, venue for the performances of many great musicians; Princess Marie, a musician, who saved the archives from fire; Princess Gilone, who faced the fire of 1935, rebuilt the chateau and braved the German occupation; Princess Elisabeth, who conserves the archives, writes about the history of Chimay and is opening the doors of the castle to the public and finally Princess Françoise, who, with her passion for art, has returned the castle to its former glory.
The visit is guided by a hyper intuitive, geolocation-based, multimedia mini iPad and is both highly informative and anecdotal. It is aimed at tourists on a gastronomic getaway, families, schools and history buffs. The guided tour is highly accessible, can be long or short and offers several levels of interpretation.
At each stage of the tour, the visitors can choose their virtual guide: either the Chimay family (Prince Philippe, Princess Elisabeth (his mother) and Princess Françoise (his wife)) or a little animated character called Enguérrand de Chimay, who is based on one of the medieval suits of armour exhibited in the castle. Architectural elements, ornaments, works of art and carefully restored furnishings are all explained at the touch of a button on the Ipad touch screen, in the visitor's language (FR, NL, D, ENG).
The innovative and multilingual tour is complemented by a +/-15 minutes 3D show with special effects that takes place in the wonderful setting of the theatre. The show uses the latest technology to translate a wealth of scientific information from the archives and excavations into images, thus bringing to life the history of the site. The noble names that created the 1,000 years of the castle's history return to re-enact their deeds in a theatre where the real and the virtual are intertwined.
The two multimedia tools (the iPad and the 3D show) were produced by de pinxi, a Belgian company that is one of Europe's leaders in interactive experiences for the culture and tourism sectors. Their main asset is a team that combines artistic and scientific skills.
This project is part of a larger campaign to promote tourism in Chimay. Historical ties have always bound the Castle to the Abbey and the town of Chimay.
Château des Princes de Chimay
14 Rue du Château