Royal Palace of Brussels
building_name = Royal Palace of Brussels
native_building_name= Palais Royal de Bruxelles fr icon
Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel nl icon
caption = Main façade of the Royal Palace of Brussels
architectural_style = Neoclassical
client = King
Belgian federal government
Monarchy of Belgium
coordinates = coord|50|50|30|N|4|21|44|E|display=inline,title|type:landmark_region:BE
architect = Gilles Barnabé Guimard,
references = The Royal Palace of Brussels (Dutch: "Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel", French: "Palais Royal de Bruxelles") is the official palace of the "
King of the Belgians" in the centre of the nation's capital Brussels. However it is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laekenon the outskirts of Brussels. The website of the Belgian Monarchy describes the function of the palace as follows: "The Palace is where His Majesty the King exercises his prerogatives as Head of State, grants audiences and deals with affairs of state. Apart from the offices of the King and the Queen, the Royal Palace houses the services of the Grand Marshal of the Court, the King's Head of Cabinet, the Head of the King's Military Household and the Intendant of the King's Civil List. The Palace also includes the State Rooms where large receptions are held, as well as the apartments provided for foreign Heads of State during official visits."Fact|date=February 2008
The palace is situated in front of
Brussels Park. A long square called the "Paleizenplein/Place des Palais" separates the palace from the park. The middle axis of the park marks both the middle peristyleof the palace and the middle of the facing building on the other side of the park, which is the Palace of the Nation (the Belgian Federal Parliamentbuilding). The two facing buildings are said to symbolize Belgium's system of government: a constitutional monarchy.
The facade we see today was only built after 1900 on the initiative of King
Leopold II. The first nucleus of the present-day building dates from the end of the 18th century. However, the grounds on which the palace stands were once part of a very old palatial complex that dated back to the Middle Ages.
The first the Coudenberg hill between the second half of the 11th and first half of the 12th century. At that time it probably looked like a fortified castle forming a part of the fortifications of the city of Brussels. It was the home of the
Dukes of Brabantwho also resided in the nearby city of Leuvenand in the Castle of Tervuren. In the following centuries it was rebuilt, extended and improved in line with the increased prestige of the Dukes of Brabant and their successors; the Dukes of Burgundy, the Emperor Charles Vand finally the Archduke Albert of Austriaand Infanta Isabel of Spainand successive Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands.
The 'Aula Magna', or Throne Room, was built for
Philip the Goodin the 15th century. It was in this room that the Emperor Charles V abdicated in 1555 in favour of his son Philip II of Spain. This prestigious complex was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1731. The ruins only disappeared when the district was redeveloped after 1775. At that time the urban axes of the present-day Brussels Parkwere laid out. The "Place Royale/Koningsplein" came on top of the ruined palace. Excavations of the site by different archeological organisations have unearthed various remains of different parts of the Palace as well as the surrounding town. The monumental vaults remaining under the square and its surrounding buildings can be visited. See: [http://www.coudenberg.com/index.html Website of the Coudenberg Palace archeological site]
The New Palace
Charles Alexander of Lorraine, at that time
Governor of the Habsburg Netherlandshad a new palace built on the nearby site of the former palace of the Nassau family (Hof van Nassau), now part of the Royal Library of Belgium. The old palace garden was redesigned as a public park. On the north side a new building for the Council of Brabant(Raad van Brabant / Conseil de Brabant) was built by the French architect Gilles Barnabé Guimard, which today houses the Belgian Federal Parliamentand is known as the 'Palace of the Nation'. On the other side of the park (the building plot of the present-day palace) the middle axis of the park continued as a street between two newly built mansions. One served as the residence of the Abbot of the nearby Coudenberg Abbey, while the other was inhabited by important government members.
Congress of Viennain 1814, Brussels became (together with The Hague) the joint capital of the new established United Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was under the rule of William I of the Netherlandsthat the street was covered and the two mansions were joined with a gallery. The newly created 'palace' received a new neo-classic facade designed by Tilman-François Suyswith a peristylein the middle, and a balcony with a wrought iron parapet surrounding the entire first floor.
The street running alongside the new palace was widened and thus the "Place des Palais" or "Paleizenplein" was created. The new square was called 'Square of the Palaces' in plural, because another palace was built on the left side of the Royal Palace. This new building (1823) was designed as the residence of the Crown Prince called the
Prince of Orange(the later King William II of the Netherlands). Today it houses the Royal Academies of Sciences and Arts of Belgium and is subsequently called 'Academiënpaleis / Palais des Academies'. The rooms and 'Salons' of the old mansions were incorporated in the new Royal Palace and were only partly refurnished. Some of them survived al the 19th and 20th century renovations and are stil partly intact today. A major addition to the interior decoration from the time of William I is the so-called 'Empire room' which was designed as a ballroom. It has a very refined cream and gold decoration designed and executed by the famous French sculptor François Rude.
=Extensions by Leopold II=
Belgian revolutionthe palace was offered to Leopold of Saxe-Coburgwhen he ascended the throne as the first King of the Belgians. Just like his predecessor William II he used the palace mainly for official receptions and other representational purposes and lived in the Royal Castle of Laeken. During his reign (until 1865) little was changed to the palace. It was his son and successor Leopold IIwho judged the building to be too modest for a king of his stature, and who kept on enlarging and embellishing the palace until his death in 1909. During his reign the palace nearly doubled in surface. After the designs of his architect Alphonse Balat, imposing rooms like the 'Grand Staircase', 'Throne Room' and the 'Grande Gallerie' were added. Balat also planned a new façade but died before the plans could be executed. It was only after 1904 that the new façade was executed after new plans by Henri Maquet. In his new design the palace received a formal front garden which separates the building from the 'Place des Palais'.
* [http://www.monarchie.be/en/visit/palace/index.html Palace of Brussels] , official website
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