Parcs & Gardens, Brussels

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    D. Quixote and Sancho Pança

    by solopes Updated Jan 1, 2014

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    Brussels
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    And suddenly we found ourselves in Spain. The statue of D. Quixote and Sancho Pança that I knew in Madrid was in front of us.

    Well, it is not Spain, but Spain square, wisely ornamented with a replica of the original creation of Lorenzo Valera.

    Somewhat hidden, but very nice.

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    Royal Greenhouses in Laeken, Part III

    by von.otter Written Apr 25, 2012
    Royal Greenhouses, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    “The Congo Free State is unique in its kind. It has nothing to hide and no secrets and is not beholden to anyone except its founder.”
    — Leopold II, King of the Belgians, (1835-1909)

    Every spring, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (in Dutch, Koninklijke Serres van Laken, in French, Serres Royales de Laeken) are open to the public for three weeks only, spanning late April to early May of the year. This practice has been in place for a century. This is an excellent chance to see the wonderful architecture of Alphonse Balat, the mentor to Victor Horta, and the greenhouses many plants in full bloom.

    The plant collection in the greenhouses is valuable for three reasons. First: some of the plants are from Leopold II’s original collections. Second: the current collections continue the spirit of the original. Third: the Royal Greenhouses contain an large number of rare and valuable plants from a botanist’s point-of-view. Medinillas, a tropical plant from the Philippines, are planted in Chinese vases brought to Belgium by Leopold II upon his return from his trip to the Far East while he was still Duke of Brabant.

    The greenhouses are open from Tuesday to Thursday, from 09:30 am to 16:00; on FridayS from 13:00 to 16:00 and from 8 pm to 10 pm; on Saturday and Sunday from 09:30 am to 16:00 pm and from 20:00 to 22:00. The greenhouses are closed on Mondays.

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    Royal Greenhouses in Laeken, Part II

    by von.otter Written Apr 25, 2012
    Royal Greenhouses, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    “I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.”
    — Leopold II, King of the Belgians (1835-1909)

    Built on the order of Leopold II, King of the Belgians, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are excellent examples 19th-century Belgian monumental architecture. The Royal architect, Alphonse Balat designed this complex of greenhouses in close collaboration with the king. Built entirely of metal and glass, which was a spectacular innovation at the time, the greenhouses contain a sizable collection of plants and flowers, particularly exotic ones, including a very important collection of camellias.

    The entire complex was built over a 21-year period, from 1874 to 1895. The centerpiece of the greenhouses, the Winter Garden was the first to be completed in this impressive city of glass. The dimensions of this greenhouse allowed tall palm trees (see photos #1 & #2), the majority of which date from the time of Leopold II (see photo #3 for a bust of the king). As soon as it was completed, this greenhouse was pressed into service for royal receptions.

    The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken as well as Château Royal de Laeken and belong to the Royal Trust (in Flemish, Koninklijke Schenking; and in French, Donation Royale), has been an autonomous public institution since 1930.

    The greenhouses are open from Tuesday to Thursday, from 09:30 am to 16:00; on FridayS from 13:00 to 16:00 and from 8 pm to 10 pm; on Saturday and Sunday from 09:30 am to 16:00 pm and from 20:00 to 22:00. The greenhouses are closed on Mondays.

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    Royal Greenhouses in Laeken, Part I

    by von.otter Written Apr 25, 2012

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    Royal Greenhouses, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    “Probably the King of the Belgians has the best business head of all the European monarchs. At the same time, he is the most magnificent spender for the gratification of his own desires and the accomplishment of his own purposes. Not that he is personally ostentatious.”
    — from “Munsey’s Magazine,” 1906, a contemporary view of Leopold II

    Construction techniques progressed during the 19th century to the point that the use of metal and glass as construction materials were able to be made into a new type of building: the greenhouse.

    As part of his plan to raise Belgium to international status, Leopold II, King of the Belgians, believed that a royal greenhouse would advance his intentions. The Winter Garden is the centerpiece of the hothouses. It was built between 1874 and 1876, following the design by the Royal architect Alphonse Balat (1819-1895). The Winter Garden was the first among the complex of greenhouses; its dimensions are magnificent. Because of this, the garden is able to house some beautiful species of palm trees.

    This series of pavilions, glass cupolas, and wide arcades that cross the hothouses like covered streets are much more than an example of the architectural applications of iron and glass. The greenhouses are a reminder that their style, the Art Nouveau, went on to influence architects throughout the world.

    The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken as well as Château Royal de Laeken and belong to the Royal Trust (in Flemish, Koninklijke Schenking; and in French, Donation Royale), has been an autonomous public institution since 1930.

    The greenhouses are open from Tuesday to Thursday, from 09:30 am to 16:00; on FridayS from 13:00 to 16:00 and from 8 pm to 10 pm; on Saturday and Sunday from 09:30 am to 16:00 pm and from 20:00 to 22:00. The greenhouses are closed on Mondays.

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    Château Royal de Laeken: The Park

    by von.otter Written Apr 16, 2012

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    Ch��teau Royal de Laeken, The Park, May 2011
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    “Brussels can become the turntable of Europe.”
    — Leopold II (1835-1909), King of the Belgians, observing how his planned changes for the young Belgium could change the capital

    Donation Royale (the Royal Trust, in Dutch, Koninklijke Schenking) owns the parkland surrounding Château Royal de Laeken, as well as the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, located within this parkland. The Château Royal de Laeken is the property of the Belgian State, not the Royal Trust. When touring the Royal Greenhouses, the lush parkland is all around the visitor. It is possible to see the Japanese Tower (see photos #4 & #5) from the Royal Park.

    Leopold II, king of the Belgians, wrote to his government on 9.April.1900 suggesting that the trust be established. The King donated his properties, including his lands, castles and buildings, to the Belgian nation. The king insisted that three conditions be met: the properties should never be sold, they should continue in present (for 1900) their function and appearance, and they should continue to serve the successors to the Belgian throne. Since 1930, by a Royal Decree of 9.April.1930 the Royal Trust operates completely independently as an autonomous public institution.

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    A Bit of Bologna in Bruxelles

    by von.otter Written Apr 16, 2012
    Fontaine de Neptune, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    “Petit pays, petit esprit.” (“Small country, small minds.”)
    — Leopold II (1835-1909) King of the Belgians, remarking on the unwillingness of Parliament and people of Belgium to engage in colonial adventures

    At the point where Avenue du Parc Royal and Avenue Jules van Praet cross it is possible see a copy of the monumental Neptune fountain, the original made by the Renaissance master Giambologna (1529-1608). The fabulous Fontaine de Neptune (Neptune Fountain) is reproduced exactly for Royal Laken Park as it decorates Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna. It is a shame that the fountain is not in operation.

    This fountain was part of Leopold II’s plan to imitate the World Tour that the king saw at the World Exposition in Paris in 1900. The fountain, the nearby Chinese Pavilion (completed in 1909) and the Japanese Tower (completed in 1904) were the only parts of the plan to be realized; the king run short of funds and troubles arose securing property rights.

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    Monument to Leopold I, King of the Belgians

    by von.otter Written Apr 13, 2012

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    King Leopold I Monument, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    Windsor Castle, 19.September.1837
    My Dearest, Most Beloved Uncle,
    One line to express to you, imperfectly, my thanks for all your very great kindness to me, and my great, great grief at your departure! God knows how sad, how forlorn, I feel! How I shall miss you, my dearest, dear Uncle! every, every where! How I shall miss your conversation! How I shall miss your protection out riding! Oh! I feel very, very sad, and cannot speak of you both without crying!

    Farewell, my beloved Uncle and father! may Heaven bless and protect you; and do not forget your most affectionate, devoted, and attached Niece and Child, Victoria R.

    — from a letter by Queen Victoria to Leopold, written at the end of a visit of Leopold to England.

    The Monument to Leopold I, Belgium’s first king, stands opposite the main entrance to the Château Royal, the palace that serves as the main residence of Belgium’s Royal Family.

    Built by Leopold II, the second but eldest surviving son of Leopold I, this monument, in the Flamboyant Neo-Gothic style, is located in Laeken Park, not far from the Atomium.

    Designed by Belgian architects Louis de Curte and Willem Geefs and constructed between 1878 and 1880 the monument has nine bays and at its center the figure of Leopold I.

    Leopold (1790-1865) was a German prince, son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. His children included Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico. Before her untimely death, he had been married to Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV of the United Kingdom; he was also a maternal uncle to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

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    Château Royal de Laeken

    by von.otter Written Apr 9, 2012
    Chateau Royal de Laeken, Bruxelles, May 2011
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    “Happiness is rarely absent; it is we that know not of its presence.”
    — Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949, Belgian Nobel Prize winner for Literature)

    In an area of Brussels known as Laeken stands the Chateau Royal de Laeken (in Flemish, Koninklijk Kasteel); it has been the primary residence of Belgian’s royal family since 1831, when Leopold I was created Belgium’s first king. Just outside of the historic center of town, it is sometimes confused with the family’s official residence, Palais Royal.

    Chateau de Laeken lies in a Laeken Park, where some of Brussels’ other landmarks, including the Atomium and the Tour Japonaise, can be found. The chateau was constructed as a summer retreat for Dutch and Austrian nobility between 1782 and 1784 and was designed by the French architect Charles de Wailly, under the direction of another leading architect, Louis Montoyer.

    Napoleon and Empress Josephine visited the castle on several occasions in the early 1800’s. Damaged by a fire at the end of the 19th century, the chateau was quickly reconstructed by Alphonse Balat, but it was a French architect, Charles Girault who designed its current facade.

    The chateau itself is fabulous! Its brick exterior is decorated with pillars and features a spectacular central domed roof. The building has 180 windows and the interior is f decorated in the Art Deco style of the 1930’s, and uses lots of cool marble and white stone.

    The chateau’s extensive grounds contain the marvelous Royal Greenhouses, which are open to the public for a short period each year, three weeks in early May. Of the several pavilions on the grounds, the Chinese Pavilion, is open to the public with exhibitions of Chinese ceramics and silver. Another notable pavilion is the Japanese Tower, a pagoda designed for the 1900 Paris World Fair. This pavilion is not open to the public.

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    A Square Honoring the Fallen

    by von.otter Updated Apr 6, 2012
    Place des Martyrs, Bruxelles, May 2012
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    “My Dearest Little Willie, I am now in the city of Brussels, in which the King of Belgium lives. Your dear Aunt S. will show you where it is upon the map. It is a beautiful place, with trees all round it.”
    — Samuel Clark (1810-1875, Rector of Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire) from a letter, to his young son, dated 7.January.1858

    Place des Martyrs, in Dutch Martelarenplein, is a square in the uniform Neo-Classical style. Found in the center of Brussels, the name refers to those who died, 500 Martyrs some say, during September of the Belgian Revolution of 1830.

    Shortly after the events of September 1830, it was decided to bury the fallen revolutionaries on the square. In 1831 the Provisional Government decreed that a special crypt be created beneath the square. Seven years later a monument to honour of the heroes was unveiled and the square acquired its final name of Place des Martyrs.

    Originally called Place Saint-Michel, in Dutch Sint-Michielsplein, in honor of Michael the Archangel, patron of Bruxelles, the square was laid out between 1774 and 1778 following the designs of Claude Fisco. The buildings surrounding the square, with their neat, Classically-ordered facades, are residences. The trees that grow at the square’s corner edges are in the espalier style (see photo #5), with their branches pruned and tied a frame, which allow them to grow on a flat plane.

    The allegorical monument, commemorating the Belgian Revolution, was designed by Guillaume Geefs (1805-1883). It stands at the center of the square, over the crypt.

    For groups only, it is possible to visit the crypt on request. Call Adrien Lenaerts, rue Lt. J. Becker, 8, at 0477/21 07 33.

    Ride the Métro to Brouckère stop.

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    Sablon Garden

    by Maria81 Written Jan 16, 2010

    Where?

    Close to the Place du Grand Sablon, across the road from Church Notre Dame du Sablon

    What?

    The garden is in Place du Petit Sablon, and is fairly small but features about 50 sculptures each depicting a different profession practiced in the Middle Ages. A larger monument to Counts Hoorn and Egmont forms the centrepiece of the garden.

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    Serre Royales.

    by Maurizioago Written May 20, 2009

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    These conservatories were built in the 19th century by king Leopold II to house his collection of plants from the Congo. They consists of 16 connected greenhouses.

    This complex can be visited only for two weeks every year; usually between april and may. I was very lucky to be in Brussels at the beginning of may, so that I could enjoy those rich collection of flowers and plants.

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    Botanical Gardens - Serres Royales -Greenhouses

    by Mikebb Written Jan 19, 2009

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    19th Century Glasshouses

    Our Hop On Hop Off bus tour took us pat Domaine de Laeken which is the Royal estate and parklands. The Royal Family reside on this estate, some of which is availablle to the public. The Royal Greenhouses stand out and can be seen from the road. My photo was taken from the top deck of the bus.

    Public may visit during the period late April to early May. Admission 2 euros. Address :Avenuedu Parc Royal,61.

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  • The Famous Toulip Exhibition of Grand Bigard

    by dimilag Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    Grand Bigard is a 16th century casttle well preserved and very interesting. But it is world known from its magnificent toulip bulbs exhibition. Around one million bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, grape hyacinths, etc will be presented to the public in the 14 hectares castle park. The opening hours are from Friday 6 April 2007 to Sunday 6 May 2007 from 10 am to 6 pm. Cash desks are open until 5 pm.

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    Bump into a squirrel in a (Woluwe-St-Pierre) park

    by Norali Updated Feb 21, 2007

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    Where squirrels reside...
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    Since I am used to see squirrels in zoos, I was greatly surprised when I bumped into a squirrel in a park near my place... So rare and sooo fun!

    Unfortunately, no pic! I saw "my" squirrel while doing my daily walk in the park... and I am not used to bring camera when walking. I should though... Next time

    Meanwhile, see pictures of swans and other curios in the park. There are coots there, ducks... If my memory serves me well, a species in this park is imported from Egypt.

    May 18 2003: I saw "my" squirrel for second time today, same place. I brought with me my camera but I just finished my film by shooting trees and pounds. Pity! I wil return till I have my pic :-)

    By the way, go to my Woluwe Saint Pierre page to see pictures of this marvellous park, just 5 minutes from my apartment.

    Used to living in a rural area in Madagascar, this park just off my ex apartment (rather, the latter was off the park !) was a haven, a relaxing place when I wanted to escape from it all! Yes, just 5 min from my ex apartment.

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    The Park Of Brussels

    by viddra Written Sep 7, 2005

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    the park
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    Between the Royal Palace and the Palace of Nations, there's yet another beautiful place of peace and tranquility.

    This used to be the hunting ground of the Dukes of Brabant.

    The park was designed by an Austrian and a French architects, Zinner and Guimard, and open to the public in 1775.

    When the weather permits, you can listen to the concerts here.

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