Royal Castle of Laken in Brussels
The Royal Castle of Laeken (Dutch: Kasteel van Laken , French: Château de Laeken, German: Schloss Laken) is the official residence of the King of the Belgians.
The castle was built at Laeken between 1782-1784 after the plans of the French architect Charles de Wailly under supervision of Louis Montoyer as a summer residence for the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Jean-Joseph Chapuis provided the royal furnitures.
On 21 July 1803, Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as commissioner of the department of the Dijle, received Napoleon at the Castle of Laeken. Napoleon stayed here with his Empress in August 1804 on his way from awarding the first Légion d'honneur to his invasion troops at Boulogne to his progress along the Rhine, and later (on invading Belgium during the Hundred Days in 1815) dated this proclamation prematurely from the palace.
Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as burgomaster of Brussels, received the new king Leopold I of Belgium also at the Castle of Laeken on 21 July 1831, the day when Leopold swore allegiance to the Belgian constitution. The Château was partly destroyed by fire in 1890 and rebuilt by Alphonse Balat. The French architect Charles Girault gave it its present outline in 1902. It has been the royal residence since the accession to the throne of king Leopold I in 1831. The domain also contains the magnificent Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, a set of monumental dome-shaped constructions, accessible to the public only a few days a year. They were designed as well by Alphonse Balat, with the cooperation of the young Victor Horta.
The vast park of the Château includes lakes, a golf course and various pavilions like the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower. The Chinese Pavilion was commissioned by king Leopold II. The rooms are designed in a 'Chinoiserie' Louis XIV-style and Louis XVI style. They are 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.
Upon their accession to the throne in 1993, King Albert II and Queen Paola preferred to remain living at Belvédère, a château on the grounds of the park surrounding the castle. The current occupants of the castle are TRH The Duke and Duchess of Brabant.
- Royal Trust