Learn more about Laken
Here lies the Royal Palace of Laeken, official home of the Belgian Royal Family, and its domain, a greenbelt, designed in English style, in the middle of Brussels. The castle was built between 1782-1784 by J.l. Montoyer. It was destroyed by fire in 1890 and rebuilt by Alphonse Balat. The French architect C.A. Girault gave it its present outline in 1902. It has been the royal residence since the accession to the throne of king Léopold I in 1831. The domain also contains the magnificent royal greenhouses of Laeken, a set of dome-shaped constructions, accessible to the public only a few days a year. They were designed as well by A. Balat, with the cooperation of Victor Horta.
A little south of the domain, you can find the neo-gothic Church of Our Lady (French: Eglise de Notre-Dame, Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), built for queen Louise-Marie, wife of Léopold I. The architect was Joseph Poelaert, designer of the famed Brussels Palais de Justice. The church contains the royal crypt, where the members of the Belgian royal family are buried. The cemetery behind the church is known as the "Belgian Père Lachaise" because it used to be the burial place of the rich and the famous. It harbours the graves of, among others, Fernand Khnopff and Maria Malibran and also features an original cast of Thinker by Auguste Rodin.
A little north of the domain stand the contrasting Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower. The Chinese Pavilion was commissioned by king Leopold II. The halls are designed in Louis XIV-style and Louis-XVI-style and decorated with Chinese motifs, chinaware and silverware. The Japanese Tower is a pagoda, originally built for the world fair of Paris in 1900. It was bought by King Leopold II and brought to Brussels. It houses a display of old military costumes, helmets and weapons.