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Palais Royal

Palais Royal (23)

The Royal Palace is the official residence in the capital of the royal family, although interestingly the monarchs, in fact, nearly always live in the Palace of Laeken, as they consider it much more welcoming. You are nevertheless in front of the most significant buildings of those that surround the Parc de Bruxelles, and one of the most important in the city. 

This used to be the site of the residence of the Dukes of Brabant, which was home to rulers such as Philip the Good and Charles V, although it was destroyed by fire in 1731. It is thought that the fire was caused by the palace cooks, who were so involved in making jam that they failed to notice the flames. Moreover, because of the low temperatures of the Belgian winter, the water was frozen and, even though the people of the city tried to smother the fire with beer, nothing could be done to save the building.

Construction of this new palace thus began in the eighteen-twenties, and it followed the original plans of the architect Ghislain-Joseph Henry, who died before work was completed and was replaced by Van der Straeten, initially, and then by Franciscus Suys después. Later, in the nineteenth century, King Leopold II ordered the extension and renovation of the palace, and much of the exterior facade was completed. Throughout the twentieth century more elements were incorporated and restored.

The first thing you should realise is that the Royal Palace is only open to the public from July to September, so if you are travelling at another time of year, unfortunately you will miss the chance of enjoying the elegant rooms of this site.

If you do have the opportunity to visit the interior, on the other hand, the first thing that will strike you is the impressive hall, which is decorated with a series of busts, and the beautiful staircase of honour, one of Balat’s best works. Noteworthy among the sumptuous rooms you will find here, are first the two White Rooms, with late eighteenth-century rococo furniture and large glass chandeliers with candles. 

Also of note are the Thinkers’ Room, which becomes a chapel of rest when a member of the royal family dies, and the Hall of Mirrors, an impressive hall where the royal family holds ceremonial acts.  

However, the Throne Room stands out over and above all these rooms. This room, which is divided into three parts, is remarkable for its originality and grandiloquent decoration. Special mention should be made of the huge columns, the 28 chandeliers and the great candelabras, as well as the bas-relief by Rodin that decorates part of the central wall. 

By the way, if you have not had the chance to visit the palace interior, however, remember that a quiet changing of the guard ceremony takes place every day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. 

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