Palais de Charles de Lorraine/Karel van Lotharingia Paleis
(Place du Musée 1)
   Formerly known as the Palais de Nassau, this grandiose town house was built originally in the 15th century in the Late Gothic style. It served as home to the Nassau family for over 300 years. Following destruction of the Coudenberg Palace in 1731, governors-general of the Austrian Netherlands used the palace as their residence. Charles of Lorraine purchased it in 1756, and he ordered the remodeling of most of the building, except for the chapel and inner courtyard. Work was undertaken by architects Jean Faulte (1726-1766) and, after his death, Laurent Benoît Dewez (1731-1812). Reconstructed in the neoclassical style, the palace held no permanent occupant after Charles's death. Emperor Joseph II stayed here (1781) and it was ransacked by pillaging French troops in 1794. An imperial decree gave ownership to the city in 1810 and a library and picture gallery were installed during the Dutch regime. A central range of rooms was added in 1825 and an additional wing in the last quarter of the 19th century. The building housed the Université libre de Bruxelles following its inception in 1834.
   The city ceded the property and its contents to the state in 1842. In 1846, a painting and sculpture museum was installed from which pre-19th-century works were withdrawn in 1877 because of overcrowding. Called the Musée d'Art moderne, the premises again grew too small. The facility was closed in 1959 and collections were transferred to the new Musée d'Art moderne.
   The apartments of Charles of Lorraine today comprise one wing of the original palace. They were restored in 1976 and include displays relating to the life and interests of the governor. The façade of the building has been integrated into the place du Musée.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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