Royal Palace of Brussels
Location: Brussels, Belgium.
Condition: In good condition.
Ownership / Access: Belgian federal government.
Notes: The Royal Palace of Brussels (Dutch: Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel [ˈkoːnɪŋklək pɑˈlɛis vɑn ˈbrɵsəl], French: Palais Royal de Bruxelles, German: Königlicher Palast von Brüssel) is the official palace of the King and Queen 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 Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. 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 peristyle of 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 Parliament building). The two facing buildings are said to symbolize Belgium's system of government: a constitutional monarchy. As often mentioned it has a facade 50% longer than that of Buckingham Palace but its floor area of 33,027m2 is less than half of Buckingham Palace's floor area (77,000m2). 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 the Coudenberg Palace a very old palatial complex that dated back to the Middle Ages. The first building on the Coudenberg hill was constructed 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 Brabant who also resided in the nearby city of Leuven and 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 V, the Archduke Albert of Austria and Infanta Isabel of Spain and successive Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands. The 'Aula Magna', or Throne Room, was built for Philip the Good in 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 on February 3, 1731. The ruins only disappeared when the district was redeveloped after 1775. At that time the urban axes of the present-day Brussels Park were laid out. The Place Royale was built 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.
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Palace of Brussels, official website