This summer, Visit Flanders is launching a cultural project aimed at showcasing the region’s castle and garden estates.
The project ‘Stories Untold’ will debut on 1 August at the castle in Zemst, known as the Rubens Castle, for being the residence of renowned Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens between 1635 and 1640. For 6 days a week, until 29 October, there will be a range of experiences on the premises, from cultural activities such as concerts, films, art exhibitions, theatre and dance, to food experiences, overnight stays, lectures, workshops and projects from the local community.
From an international perspective, Stories Unfold is a unique project that will undoubtedly reinforce the ambitions that Visit Flanders has with Flemish country estates.Peter DeWilde, CEO Tourism Flanders
“[The project] must become a creative breeding ground that does not shy away from experimentation and imagination in order to inspire about the future of our country estates”, said Peter DeWilde, CEO of Tourism Flanders, revealing that the plan is to organise an edition of Stories Untold every two years, each time on a different Flemish domain.
The absolute showpiece of the first edition of Stories Unfold will be an architectural pavilion, Tourism Flanders promises, with space for catering and a stage, a place that connects people with each other, but also with nature. The temporary pavilion and the rest of the castle grounds will serve as home for the diverse and inspiring program.
Local entrepreneurs and organisations will also be able to use the location to display their projects and initiatives. “We as a municipality really want to contribute to this. At the same time, our residents and other visitors will have the opportunity to fully enjoy the beauty of the Rubens Castle and its marvellous surroundings”, Zemst mayor Veerle Geerinckx explained.
“Our Flemish estates have a lot to offer”, commented Flemish Minister for Heritage Matthias Diependaele. “This unique project is an excellent stimulus to think further about their (re)use. The fact that Stories Unfold will also be a place for knowledge building, knowledge sharing and connection for the Flemish network of estate owners and operators is a fantastic asset.”
Stories Unfold is the final step of a participatory redevelopment process of the Rubens Castle. Over the past several years, the owners and local authorities have conducted multiple surveys, workshops and brainstorming sessions with residents, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders to assess how the domain could better benefit the community. One of the purposes of Stories Untold is to clarify which of the proposed initiatives, or “interpretations of the Rubens Castle”, will be possible in the near future.