Mont des Arts/Kunstberg
   The Mont des Arts district was founded and reputedly named by King Leopold II, who sought to create in his capital a quarter where world-renowned art and other museum collections would be housed that would showcase the cultural prominence of Belgium. Overlooking the old town to the southeast of the Grand' Place, the Mont des Arts comprises the area between the upper town and the lower town and stretches from boulevard de l'Empereur to rue Montagne de la Cour.
   The first plans for the district were drafted by Alphonse Balat in 1882, and they were supplemented by his student Henri Maquet in 1895. A colossal building project was envisaged, including expansion of the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts and the Bibliothèque royale and construction of a Palais de l'Industrie and Archives générale de Royaume, all to be built in a neoclassical arrangement. The Montagne de la Cour and surrounding areas— Saint-Roch, Terarken, Isabelle, and Putterie—were demolished beginning in 1897. However, construction was delayed and then shelved following indecision by the king, funding shortfalls, and opposition from some city officials, notably Burgomaster Charles Buls. By 1900, the area was filled with mounds of rubble and the king grew anxious about the eyesore in light of the upcoming World's Fair of 1910. A cleanup was ordered and terraced gardens were laid out. The gardens were bulldozed in 1955 and the current architectural complex, plans for which were drafted before World War II, was begun, which was completed in 1969.
   The buildings comprise the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique and its accompanying museums and the Palais de la Dynastie and Palais des Congrès. Gardens flanking the latter and the library were laid out by René Pechère in 1956. The Palais des Congrès, closed in 2003, will reopen in 2006 following a facelift that will add 6,000 sq. m of new exhibition space. Plans call for a large glass cube to be erected at the top of the Albertine gardens, in homage to designer Pechère.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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