Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels, Belgium
www.monarchie.be/palace-and-… - 02 551 20 20
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken Brussels Reviews
The gardens of Leopold II May 01, 2010
The opportunity to look inside of the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken is only available for two weeks every year, during the beginning of Spring.
The gardens date back to 1873, when King Leopold II used part of the spoils of the Congo to fund Alphonse Balat to design and build an enormous complex of greenhouses. The greenhouses were unique at the time, both for the size and scale of the indoor gardens (2.5 hectares) and also for the use of just metal and glass to build. In a very real way these greenhouses shaped the next wave of architecture, as Alphonse Balat hired Victor Horta as his assistant on the project, Horta's first position and a strong influence.
The visit is quite regimented, you pay your €2.50 at the entrance and march around the complex in a predetermined regiment. Armed police line the two hour walk and chase any young children that dare to step onto the grass. The building itself is quite interesting and there are quite a few rare plants to see (800,000 litres of fuel oil are used every year to provide the warmth the tropical plants need). Mostly, though, it is the riot of colour and smell, with fuchsias dripping from the ceiling and ferns cascading down the walls.
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