The Royal Museum for Central Africa came into being following the World Fair of 1897 by
Leopold II . He was perceived by many Belgians as the "King-Builder", because he commissioned a great number of buildings and urbanistic projects in Belgium, so as this museum
The museum building was constructed between 1904 and 1910 by the French architect Charles Girault. He based his design on Versailles and the Petit Palais in Paris.
The Africa Museum is a museum and a research institute at the same time. It has a large collection of colonial objects as there are sculptures of Central Africa, fish, amphibians and reptiles, insects, geology and mineralogy, ethnography, etc.
Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA
3080 Tervuren - Belgium
Museum opening hours
Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays : from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
Closed at 3 p.m. on 24 and 31 December
Adults : 4 ?
Students (+12) : 1,5 ?
Children under 12 : free
Free entry to the permanent collection every first Wednesday of the month as from 1 p.m.
The French garden surrounding the Africa Museum has been created by E. Lainé on the occasion of the World Exhebition of 1897. Rich and poor Brussels’ inhabitants came to Tervuren as they loved strolling down the lanes, admiring the well maintained hedges and the many lovely flowerbeds.
At the time they still do ….
In 1910 the french garden has been enlarged, by garden architects Vacherot and Keilig, along the Warandepark with the ponds and canals.
This square is only footsteps away from the Africamuseum and the Warandepark. From here also start different well marked out walking paths through the Zoniën Forest.
It has a large car parking, where you can leave your car before strolling around.
The Tervuren tourist office has its office along this square.
phone + 32 (0)2 769 20 81
Fax + 32 (0)2 769 20 80
Opening hours from april until october
monday-friday: 10 - 12am en 1 - 4 pm
saturday: 11am - 4 pm
july, august and september also on sundays: 11am - 4pm
from november until march:
monday-friday: 10 - 12am and 2-4pm
The Pastorie (formerly called the Paepenhuis) is a well kept old house which dates partly from 1616. It has been built in brick and sandstone. It has been enlarged some years later with a 1st floor, a brewery and a well, a kitchen and a dining room.
It seems to be hidden in the small Pastoor Vandersandestraat, behind the Kasteelstraat (behind the St. Jan Evangelistchurch)
This should have been the farm of the Robiano castle, which is juxtaposed. Although the Robianocastle goes back to the 15th century, this gate dates from 1741.
It is some steps away from the Voer river's source. The Voer which gaves its name to Tervuren as Ter-Vure meant at the Voer.
This harmonious building was part of the demolished castle of the Dukes of Brabant. It was built in 1749 by Charles of Lorrain and architect J.A. Anneessens. It was used as a stables and housed the castle staff.
It was also the first horse-carriage post service in 1829 with next to it the "Hotel de la Poste". It was called "Horseshoe" Do you know why ?. Not only because of the horses, but also bacause of its shape.
Two lion statues protected the entrance. The lions haven't moved since, but the hotel became an army barrack, which isn't in use at the moment.
In 1882 the rails of the train track Brussel-Leopolsburg-Oudergem was prolonged till Tervuren. Three new stations were built along that line: Wezembeek-Stokkel; Oppem and one at the Brusselsesteenweg.
On occasion of the Colonial Expo the last one was deviated towards the Colonial museum at Tervuren. King Leopold II requested this. The new station was built on the Leuvensesteenweg. Each station had its own “chef de gare” who lived there with his family.
After a prosperous period came the decline. From 1946 up to 1958 the amount of travellers diminished, the company, a private one, was obstructed by regulations and the tough competition of the national train company, added the upraising furore of the private transport: the car, made it impossible to exploit this train track any longer.
At New Year’s Eve of 1958, the last drive was made.
In 1964, the beautiful monumental station didn’t survived the demolishing rage that was going on throughout Brussels that time and got completely destroyed.
On the picture you still can see how nice cottage style building it was.
Only the storage building was left. It is now converted into a taverne “Spoorloos Station”.
The current castle dates from 1900. It has been built in 1404 though. In 1516 it belong to William I, Prince from Oranje-Nassau. In 1566, Brussels Calvinists it should have used it as a refuge trying to escape from the duke Alva.
In the second part of the 19th century it became the property of the Robiano family.
This castle was demolished in 1783 and gave way to another constructed building from 1817 till 1821 by the Government of Netherlands (architect Vanderstraeten) in aid of the Prince of Orange to whom it was offered in 1823 and this rewards for it of its bravery during the battle of Waterloo.
Emperor Joseph II ordered the demolishon of the castle after the dead of Charles of Lorraine
This barocque chapel was built in 1617 by Albrecht and Isabella following the plans of Wenceslas Coeberger. You’ll find it at the entrance of the Warandepark, as a part of the former castle of the Dukes de Brabant. The legend tells it was on this place St. Hubertus died.
The Parkpoort (gate) was built in 1897 and lead to the “Congo village” at the World exhibition. It had been restored in 1990 and still leads you to the lovely Warandepark, it ponds and canals. A very nice and quiet place to hike and cycle alone, with the family, your lover or your friends.
The Duke de Brabant, the Governors of the Netherlands, Duke d’Albe, the Archduke Albert and Isabelle and Duke Charles de Lorraine, chose Tervuren for their summer residence and brought successively to the old castle built in the 13th century by Henry I, the embellishments and the extensions which made it, in 18th century, a real royal palace...
Next to the remaining ruins, a picture representing the castle such as it was in 18-th century very close of the St. Hubert chapel set up as 1616 by the Archduchess Isabelle.
You cannot miss visiting the Royal Museum for Central Africa.
It is the landmark of Tervuren.
Facing the beautiful “French” garden, the museum is build almost on the crossroad where the central path from the Warande park, crosses the path going from the Castle at one side towards the side where you can see a beautiful sculpture, erected on the location where was meant to be constructed an international university.
The French architect Charles Girault designed the museum. It took from 1904 till 1910 to finish it. Not very much to your surprise the result might remind you of Versailles and the Petit Palais in Paris. Indeed, they where the inspiration for the design of the Africa Museum.
Except for the glassing of the arcade in, the building remained unaltered.
The purposes of the museum was to provide a good recourse for studies about Central Africa and collect items for research and to show case the Colonial richness concerning artefacts, plants and animals to the Belgian civilians.
It is still a nice museum to visit and there are yearly several temporary additional exhibitions to attend.
If you are in Brussels for long time enough, this is really worth a trip.
Tom Frantzen “The Congo I presume”
At the East side of the French garden was a compilation of statues erected in 1997. They were created by Tom Frantzen and inaugurated on occasion of the centennial of the Colonial World Exhibition. The monument was baptized “The Congo, I presume. Congo-Tervuren 1897-1997”. It is an artistic ode to the beauty of the African warriors.
But it is more then this.
Each of the statues that are part of the whole represents something; you have the flamingos (representing the control over water and sky); the Elephant, Africans pride, the statue of King Leopold II; the peacock and the warriors of three different tribes.
The name of the statue itself is a wink to the famous expression of the explorer-journalist Sir Henry Stanley “Dr. Livingstone, I presume” when in 1871 the latter was send out in search of Stanley.
If you realise they must have been about the two only whites in the area, this sentence must have been quite funny.
The statue is erected on the spot where was meant to be built a huge international university. Pity these plans were never realised because of the death of King Leopold II.
His daughters were throwing their money out of doors and windows during his reign and spent more then they really owned.
Much credit (literary and symbolical) to them was however granted because it was a public secret Leopold II was rich and there would be a back-up to cover the debts made by his family.
Leopold II however knew what would happen: all his belongings and achievements would be confiscated and sold to cover these debts, so he put all his property in a fund and donated it to the Belgian state. This way no one could claim anything.
However it would prevent as well the building of one of his last dreamed of project: this international university.
For those who are interested in the artist Tom Frantzen, he has a new project that still needs some financing. Big companies are willing to offer money but in return for rather unaesthetical promotion signs. That future project is again a collection of different statues with fountain that will decorate the roundabout at Tervuren.
Some of his other works are:
De Vaartkapoen; Le Zinneke; Madame Chapeau; bas-relief of ‘t Serclaes, all in Brussels;
La chute des anges at the ULB,
Fathers and Sons at the Zoo in Antwerp; Boule et bill (two comic strip figures) in Jette; Ernest Claes (writer) in Zichem;
Methaphor I and Running Culture in Japan; Trois dauphins (three dolphins) in Wezembeek-Oppem;
Amazone in Nieuwpoort.
Quite some impressive palmares!