It is a large palace, the official residence of the Belgian Sovereigns, located near the Atomium. It is situated in the north of Brussels.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ROYAL PALACE OF LAEKEN
The construction of the Royal Palace of Laeken dates back to the late eighteenth century, when this territory belonged to the Austrian Netherlands. It has been the residence of the Belgian monarchy since the independence of Belgium in 1830. This Louis XVI style palace is located in the district of Laeken in Brussels, which was an independent town from the north of Brussels until the early twentieth century. Today it is the official residence of King Philippe, his wife Queen Mathilde and their four children.
UNDER THE DOMAIN OF NAPOLEON AND THE DUTCH STAGE
The Palace of Laeken was built between 1782 and 1784. It was commissioned by the rulers of the Austrian Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, and designed by the architect Charles Wailly. When these territories became French in 1794, the palace became abandoned and it was sold to speculators who reused its materials. It was then bought by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, who restored it with the intention of offering it to his first wife Josephine. During the Dutch rule period which precedes the creation of Belgium, the Palace of Laeken became the second residence of William of Orange.
THE PALACE, A BELGIAN PROPERTY
A year after the Belgian independence in 1831, the palace became the residence of the kings of Belgium with Leopold I as the first resident. However, in the new year reception on January 1st, 1890, the palace was seriously damaged in a terrible fire which devastated its rooms. His descendant, Leopold II, worked with several architects in the early twentieth century to restore and expand this architectural ensemble in a monumental way.
Ironically, later in the history of this building, the Palace of Laeken was the residence, at the same time, of a former Sovereign, Leopold III, and of a new sovereign, the child in favour of whom he had abdicated, King Baldwin, until he finally married Queen Fabiola in 1960.
Later, King Albert II decided to live in the same place where he lived before his coronation and his brother’s death (Baldwin, the Belvedere Palace, opposite the Palace of Laeken, as his official residence. For his part, Prince Philippe lived in Laeken from his marriage with Mathilde in 1999.
Thus, with the appointment of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde as Sovereigns of Belgium in July 2013 and without any change of residents, this landmark building has recovered its full royal dimension as the official residence of the Belgian Sovereigns.
THE ROYAL GREENHOUSES
In 1873 the architect Alphonse Balat designed for King Leopold II a complex of greenhouses to complete the Palace of Laeken, made in classic style with monumental structures of steel and glass. Monumental halls, breathtaking domes and long galleries like covered streets make of these greenhouses the ultimate expression of the development of new architectural techniques which were beginning to appear in the nineteenth century.
The current collection of plants of the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Serres Royales) contains from specimens belonging to the era of Leopold II to rare specimens of exotic plants of great value. For more than a century, there is a tradition of opening the greenhouses to the public each spring, and these huge glazed gardens of Laeken are accessible to all visitors for about three weeks.
The Royal Palace of Brussels (Palais Royal) located in the heart of the European city is the official palace or representative building of the Belgian monarchy, where the King performs his duties as Head of State. The Palace of Laeken, thus, is essentially his official residence
Other monuments that can be visited nearby the Palace of Laeken are the Neo-Gothic Church of Our Lady of Laeken, the Atomium and Mini-Europe.
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Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels
HOW TO GET TO THE PALACE OF LAEKEN
- Metro: Line 6, stop Stuyvenbergh
SOME PLACES NEAR TO THE PALACE OF LAEKEN