Visiting the Royal Palace, Brussels, Belgium: imposing workplace of the monarch

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Royal Palace, Brussels
Royal Palace, Brussels | Source
Former Royal Palace, Brussels
Former Royal Palace, Brussels | Source
Map location of Brussels, Belgium
Map location of Brussels, Belgium | Source

Royal power represented

The imposing Royal Palace (French: Palais Royal de Bruxelles ; Dutch: Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel ) in Belgium's Brussels is very much a working centre. Belgium's monarchs have used this building essentially as an especially impressive office, with its striking pillared frontage, rather than their actual residence. (The Kings — they have all been kings, thus far — of the Belgians actually reside at the Palace of Laeken, in the north of Brussels.)

The current monarch is King Albert II of the Belgians (1), who has reigned since 1993.

Some history

The frontage of the Royal Palace was only completed after 1904, during the reign of Leopold II.The architect for this monumental frontage was Henri Maquet, using designs by the deceased Alphonse Balat. The formal garden planted immediately in front of the Palace dates from this period also.

Interestingly, the original palace itself was not designed for the King of the Belgians, since it predated the establishment of the Kingdom of Belgium which came into being in 1830. In 1823 a palace was completed in neo-Classical style by the architect Tilman-François Suys for the Dutch Prince of Orange (at this time, what is now Belgium was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). Other palaces on or near this site had previously existed also.

The fascinating BELvue Museum, which traces Belgium's history through the reigns of its monarchs, is located in the adjacent Hôtel Bellevue, a wing of the Royal Palace. This museum can be a highlight of any visit to Brussels, as I can readily testify.

The Belgian constitution as considered from Brussels Park

The Royal Palace may be viewed to particularly good effect from the nearby entrance of Brussels Park (French: Parc de Bruxelles; Dutch: Warandepark). This elongated Park area actually has two palaces situated at either end: the Royal Palace and the Parliament building (French: Palais de la Nation ; Dutch: Paleis der Natie ).

Thus the Park area seems to be a living lesson in the Belgian constitution, with structures representing Royal and legislative authority respectively, facing one another across the Park.

Note

(1) The style 'King of the Belgians' is officially preferred to 'King of Belgium'.

Also worth seeing

Other outstanding historical and cultural sites worth visiting in Brussels are too many to mention properly here, but while in Brussels be sure to visit the Grand' Place . The Erasmus House (French: Maison d'Erasme ; Dutch: Erasmushuis ), Anderlecht, is a museum dedicated to the great Renaissance scholar, Erasmus of Rotterdam.

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How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. However, the Metro is a very convenient way of getting around Brussels. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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