Chinese & Japanese Towers, Brussels
On the northern corner of the royal park are two rather unusual buildings, at least in this part of Europe: a Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower. These were constructed on the orders of King Leopold II after his visit to the 1900 Exhibition in Paris. Both buildings can be visited, though we had time for neither and simply admired them from our passing bus.
from 10 a.m. till 16:45 p.m., closed on Mondays and public holidays
The Japanese Tower, Chinese Pavilion and new Japanese Art Museum opened in March 2006 in a small building (formerly a garage) behind the Chinese Pavilion form an interesting group for anyone interested in oriental arts. The Japanese Art Museum contains a small but choice selection from the extensive Japanese collection of the Royal Art and History Museums (Cinquantenaire), which will apparently be rotated every couple of months. The Chinese Pavilion itself says a lot more about Europe in the 1930s than it does about China but contains some superb Chinese porcelain. The Japanese Tower is perhaps most striking from the outside but also contains some interesting decorative items. It was first opened to the public for Europalia Japan in 1989, when an access tunnel was built below the main road that separates the Tower and the Pavilion. The ticket office for the whole complex is at the beginning of this tunnel, tickets cost €1, €2 or €3 depending on how many of the 3 buildings you want to visit.
Note that the complex has no proper café, only a room in the Chinese Pavilion with drinks machines and seating - but no tables.
On the northern corner of the royal park two monuments can be seen, which are rather unusual for Belgium, but nevertheless splendid. After his visit to the 1900 universal Exhibition in Paris King Leopold II decided to have his park embellished with exotic monuments. He ordered the Parisian architect Alexandre Marcel to construct the Chinese Pavilion. The woodwork was made by specialists from Shanghai.
After restoration works the building can now be visited and has been open to the public since 1913. On display are Chinese porcelain items from the 17th and 19th century.
Please take a look to my travelogue of The Chinese Pavilion where you can see more pictures from in and around it.
Currently, the permanent collections of the Japanese Tower result from the extraordinary interest which Europe has towards artistic Japan. Indeed, between the middle of the 17th and 18th century, Europe made the success of its decorative porcelains, and in the second half of the 19th century just at the beginning of 20th, it was filled with enthusiasm for the whole of the trades of Japanese art presented at the World Fairs.
The erection of the Japanese Tower, whose house of entry was repurchased with the exposure of Paris, was entrusted to the architect Alexandre Marcel.
The architectural ornamentation inside and out of the Japanese Tower, such as carved panels or worked copper plates, was carried out in Yokohama.
The Japanese Tower had to close its doors in 1947 only to open them again in 1989. It is currently used as ECRIN with expos sets of themes.
Please take a look to my travelogue of The Japanese Tower where you can see more pictures from in and around it.
The Chinese pavilion and Japanese pagoda in the park at Laeken are definately worth the trek here, especially if you combine it with nearby Laeken Palace and/or Heyzel with its attractions. The pagoda was under scaffolding during my latest (since VT membership) visit so there is no photo but you can see the other buildings amongst these photos. King Leopold II was very impressed with the Asian architecture on display during the great Paris Exhibition in 1900, and decided to construct the Chinese house and Japanese pagoda out here. It was not finished until after his death and then the Foreign Ministry made the whole lot an Oriental Arts Museum instead of just letting the buildings stand there (the Chinese pavilion was originally meant to be a restaurant). The Chinese pavilion, the Japanese pagoda and the art museum beneath the pavilion are all full of Chinese and Japanese porcellain and other art and run by the Royal Museum for Fine Arts (see tip). The pagoda was closed from 1947 to 1989 when emperor Hirohito died but I am not sure why this was the case.
Belgian King Leopold II was so impressed by the 1900 Univeral Exhibition in Paris, particularly the parts from the Far East, that he commissioned these works. French architect Alexandre Marcel designed the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Pagoda, with the Entrance Pavilion to the Pagoda brought here directly from Paris. The Pavilion has a collection of Chinese porcelain. It's just another one of the oddities in this colorful city.
King Leopold II was so impressed by a Japanese structure constructed for the 1900 Paris Exhibition that he bought the plans for the 125-foot Japanese Tower and had a replica built on the edge of the royal estate at Laeken. The wood doors and sculpted panels are the work of Japanese craftsmen. After the king's death in 1909, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took over the management of the pagoda and nearby Chinese Pavilion, and turned them into museums for Oriental arts, first opened to the public in 1911 (Japanese Pagoda) and 1913 (Chinese Pavilion). The Japanese Pagoda closed down in 1947, only to re-open after emperor Hirohito's death in 1989. It now houses temporary exhibitions, and since 2005, the Museum for Japanese Arts, which possesses a collection of 17th and 18th-century porcelains as well as various works of arts from the mid 19th to the early 20th century.
Open: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun. Closed Mondays.
On the edge of the royal estate at Laeken, you'll find a pair of buildings seemingly conjured up from Asia: the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion. The Chinese Pavilion was constructed on the orders of King Leopold II from Parisian architect Alexandre Marcel between 1901-09. Most of the exterior woodwork was made in Shanghai. It was originally intended to be a deluxe restaurant but it now displays a collection of 17th and 18th century Chinese porcelain and furniture.
Open: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun. Closed Mondays.
Facing the Chinese pavilion, this Japanese complex, was built to show two different structures - a high red tower and an adjacent wooden pavilion. Housing temporary collections of Japan, it is surrounded by a garden with many Japanese plants.
The Chinese and Japanese pavilions were built in the beginning of the 20Th century, as a result of the passion of king Leopold II for eastern culture.
Not so very far from the Atomium you can find two other buildings which are connected to the world exhibition. In the year 1900 it was held in Paris. King Leopold II was so impressed by the exotic buildings that he had seen there that he wanted to have similar ones constructed in Brussels.
He ordered the Parisian architect Alexandre Marcel to make his wish come true and to design the Chinese pavillion and the Japanese Tower.
The wood works of both structures is made by specialists from Yokohama and Shanghai. The Chinese Pavillion now harbours a small museum with Chinese porcelain and Japanese art on display.
Who would have thought you would find a beautiful Chinese Pavilion like this in Belgium? This was a very unexpected surprise. It is not far from The Atomium in the Heysel area of Brussels. The facade was carved in Shanghai. It houses a collection of porcelain from the late 17th to 19th century.
Following the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900, King Leopold II decided to commence building-work on the Japonese Tower. Work was entrusted to the Parisian architect, Alexandre Marcel, known for his oriental style buildings. This tower is home to temporary exhibitions on various aspects of the Japonese art. Museum of Japonese art also located in this area.
The Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower are two grand pieces of chinese and japanese architecture which one should visit.
I heard that for a period of time during the year, there is also a botanic garden close by where botanic plants are exhibited.
The Japanese tower and the Chinese pavilion form a remarkably exotic whole. They are counted to the last large architectural realisation of King Leopold II. The French architect Alexandre Marcel (1860-1928)build this place. The buildings offer an oriental sight, but have been build according to European principles and with Belgian material. Nevertheless some parts are manufactured in Asia. The entrance of the Japanese tower had by build as the Japanese pavilion at the Paris world expo in 1900 by a Japanese carpenter. The woodwork of both buildings was made by specialists from Yokohama and Shanghai.
The Japanese tower was build in 1905. You can go inside and see the entrance hall and first floor of the tower.
The Chinese complex was finished in 1910. inside you can see a collection off Chinese porcelain specially produced for the European market in 17de and the 18de centuries.
The building behind the Chinese pavilion used to be only a service building, but after thorough restoration work it functions as 'the museum for Japanese art'. Here traditional Japanese art is shown from the collections of the royal museums for art and history, which focuses especially on Edo-periode (1600-1868). The whole collection has over 12000 pieces, but only a part can be seen at once, because most of the objects are too vulnerable for a long-term exhibition. They will be exhibited in changing presentations. This way a number of fixed topics is presented, which testifies of the Japanese mastership of metal art, woodblok prints, textile, ceramics,...
Entrance fee: 3 Euro ( tickets only for sale at the entrance of the japanese tower)
Opening hours: Tuesday -Thursday 9:00 - 17:00
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00 (ticket sale only until 16:30)
Closed on Mondays, 1 January, 1 and 11 November, 25 December
Together with the Chinese Pavillion this tower is made by order of King Leopold II as a result of the world exhibition in Paris in 1900. See the description of the Chinese Pavillion for more info.
The Tower opened its doors in the year 1911. Two years later, the Chinese Pavillion could be admired by the public.