Soon the Colonial palace became too small for the huge collection and in 1905 Leopold II started with the project of a big Colonial Museum.
Nowadays it is called the Royal Museum of Central Africa and is no longer a museum but also a research institute. It is the most visited museum in Belgium!
Architect of the museum is Charles Girault. The building is 125 meter long and 75 meter width. The front of the museum faces the French gardens.
Fondest memory: Panoramic picture, please click on it to enjoy the complete view.
After the fire in 1879 destroyed the castle and Princess Charlotte was moved over to Meise, Leopold built a new Colonial Palace on the ruins of the former construction.
He built this Palace on occasion of the World Exhibition that was held in Brussels on 1897.
At Tervuren he organised a Colonial exhibition as part of the World exhibition and in this Palace, used as a museum, he wanted to present his Colony of Congo.
Leopold II had to wait a long time before he was finally “assigned” a colony. He had to miss many good chances. No one seems to be very interested in Congo. On first sight there was not much richdom, only rubber trees. But these rubber trees will eventually bring much profit because the automobile sector was growing immense and there was a huge demand for rubber for tires and other applications.
Leopold II never put a foot on Congolese soil and maybe that is a pity because lots of cruel stories are told of how Congolese were exploited to gain more and more rubber. Did he know or not? Fact is that he was the main responsible.
Forty years after the destruction by Joseph II of Austria and after the defeat of Napoleon in Waterloo, who too was responsible for lots of further destructions, especially monasteries and places of religion, Tervuren was donated to the King of the United Netherlands. A new castle was built on the spot of the contemporary colonial palace. The new resident was Willem-Frederik, son of the Dutch King Willem I.
It lasted until 1830 with the independence of Belgium. The whole property was turned over to the first Belgian King Leopold I.
Leopold II almost grew up here and probably it is here he developed his love for nature.
In his mind he already dreamt of this place and what he could do with it.
In 1867 he let his sister Charlotte stay in this castle after her husband was executed in Mexico. Some say she was insane because of the execution… some say she was insane already without this misfortune. In 1897 she put fire to the castle and it burned down.
She was then moved to Meise (see my Meise page).
Karel was, as written in previous tips, very much interested in new technologies. He erected factories at the end of the canal, shown at his picture.
The factories he built there were of wallpaper, textile, wall paint, porcelain …
He loved to jump on his horse and go for a ride through the warande, or go for a ride to visit one of his factories.
When he grew older however he no longer could ride a horse and the hobbling roads where sometimes painful to drive over by carriage (suspense was not yet optimal those days!).
So he decided that going by water would be the easiest way.
He let a canal be digged out (the one at the picture), connecting the several little lakes and going straight to the end where the factories where built.
Now he only had to step into a boat and let him be taken there on the water.
The factories, along with another small castle were also totally destroyed by an angry Joseph II of Austria.
Fondest memory: Both sides of the canal fall under different custody (federal; national) causing a lot of problems when it comes to terms of getting and paying money to maintain the place.
Awful typical Belgium!!!!
The building was erected as being the stable of Karel of Lotharingen’s horses as well as holding the lodgement of the approximate 300 members of his staff.
When Karel died, then this was the only building that was left untouched in the rage of Joseph II.
Karel seemed to have spend quite some money during his lifetime and in his last will in his testament he ordered that every member of his staff should receive a yearly donation as a way or retirement. Being such numerous, this meant a real capital.
This just added to the debts he already had and to the growing anger of Joseph II.
During Napoleon’s occupation this building was mainly used for housing horses. Later on in time the national guards moved in until in 1897 the army took over the buildings
Fondest memory: There used to be a gate in between those two white buildings. But the gate got replaced in 1897 a little bit more to the right, out of sight of the camera.
The new gate was the one that was constructed on the occasion of the Kolonial Expo at Tervuren in 1897.
The red brick house is the place where Prince Laurent held his engagement party.
Lots of stories are told about Saint Hubertus. He was a noble man that became a hermit, then bishop and ended as a saint. Hubertus was born in Maastricht around 656. He was the eldest son of the Frankish noble man Bertrand, Duke of Aquitania (situated between Bordeaux and the Pyreneans) and in direct blood line he was an ancestor of the French King Clovis.
He married Floribanne, daughter and only heritage of Dagobert, Count of Leuven. His wife dies during delivering his son Floribertus. Hubertus gives up all his possessions and leaves Floribertus to the custody of his brother Eudon.
It is said that one day during hunting Hubertus saw a deer with a shiny cross. He saw this as a sign of God and a way of telling him he must alter and better his life.
He went to the cloisters of Maastricht and Stavelot.
He met Lambertus, bishop of Maastricht, became priest and then Lambertus’s assistance. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome in 708 a 709.
Lambertus asked him to promise him that if anything would happen to him, he would succeed him, as if Lambertus foresaw already he was going to be murdered.
When Hubertus was on his pilgrimage to Rome, this is exactly what happened.
Hubertus was now titled bishop of Maastricht. It is said that the killing was done by order of Pepijn who lived together with a concumbine and was excommunicated by Lambertus and Hubertus.
In 710 he founded the monastery in Andage in the Ardens, were he got reburied (body as the heart was buried at Tervuren). Andage was then renamed Saint Hubert.
It is told that during repairing works at a fisherman's ship he was hit on his hand with a hammer.
The injury cured badly and a severe inflammation caused his dead. He died at Tervuren on 30 May 727, being bishop of Liege.
Fondest memory: In 17th and 18th century the French introduced the Saint Hubertus celebration mass, accompanied with music for horns. This kind of mass spread all over Europe and you can witness it now on many places. Sometimes it is in the church, but lots of times it is outdoors.
People come and ask for the blessing of their animals.
Every year there is also this tradition at Tervuren. I am told that it is really worth to experience it.
The mass and celebration is held every second Sunday of October.
After the mass with horn music, people will gather together in front of the chapel and have their pets and animals blessed.
Karel Alexander van Lotharingen (Charles Alexander of Lotharingen) was nominated general-governor of the Austrian Low Countries and moved to Tervuren where he renovated the castle that a century before was the residence of Isabella and Albrecht.
He was a man who was interested in art, in innovation, science, new industry and women.
During his life he gathered together a huge collection of artefacts that you still can admire in his former residence in Brussels.
One of the constructions he builds was a horseshoe-shaped building. Here he kept several horses and tried out new breeds. Only one was successful, that was the huge pulling horses people used to work on their acres.
The building now is a kazerne.
When Albrecht and Isabella discovered their love for Tervuren and the castle, they had a little chapel been built just next to the castle.
It is the Saint Hubertus Chapel.
It is told that Saint Hubertus is buried here, at least his heart is.
It was common that when a very important person died his body was divided in a couple of parts and the heart usually went where the “home” was.
The chapel is built in a mixture of Renaissance and Barok by W. Coeberger.
It is told to be erected on the very spot where Saint Hubertus is deceased.
In 1190 duke Henri I built a fortified castle at the spot where the rivers Voer and Maalbeek met. It was at a comfortable distance between Brussels and Leuven. As told in the previous tip, they used this location mostly for leisure and hunting. What was a small castle soon would grow into almost a real palace where also the administration was stored.
The reign of Charles the V was disastrous for the nearby Zonien forest, but under reign of Albrecht and Isabella (1598-1633) it could restore a bit again.
It was also Albrecht and Isabella who loved to stay at the castle and because it became to humid, they started to renovate it completely.
In 1713 the Southern Low Countries became property of the Austrian Habsburgers and Karel of Lotharingen was assigned governor. He too grew very fond of the location and the castle.
However when he died, his ancestor, Joseph II was so furious about the debts Karel left, not in the least about his last will in which he told he wanted his whole staff to receive a donation once a year, and they were over 300!, that he came to Tervuren and in his fury and anger, he demolised the castle, and everything that stood for “Karel of Lotharingen”. Only the building where the horses were kept escaped.
This picture shows the remainings of this one so glorious castle that was victim under the destructive hands of Joseph II of Austria. So he didn’t only plundered our churches “buying our valuable paintings” he also was very revengeous!!!
What he didn’t demolish and had value, he confiscated and took it with him to Vienna, or sold it to gain money.
The name of Tervuren derives from the name of a little river called Voer. It is an adjunct river of the Dijle. Ter-Vure means literary “at-the-Voer”.
Excavations revealed that already in pre-history this area was populated. The early habitants settled on the highest points where the river the Voer and the Maalbeek, another small river were merging into another. The Maalbeek got filled up with river mud and does not exist anymore.
Tervuren was a poor village and there was absolutely no wealth, yet many Dukes and royalties favoured this location as a main, temporary or 2nd “home”.
I only explored a small part of it, and I have missed to visit the village itself. But I know I will be back for more!
Tervuren is situated just in the middle of Brussels and Leuven, one-day trip away from each of them.
This used to be a real forest, called Sonia along a document found from the around 1000. Later the name changed into Zonien.
The reason that this forest survived all these centuries was because it became the property of the Dukes of Brabant. It was not yet 1200 when they bought it for hunting ground and, not in the least, for the profits. Wood was in those days very important for constructions and for heating. At the end of the 15th century it represented 25 % of the income of the Dukes!