Palais Royal/Koninklijk Paleis
(Place des Palais)
   The Palais Royal is one of the centerpiece buildings flanking the Parc de Bruxelles in the upper town. It occupies part of the site of the Coudenberg Palace. Built to provide a suitable city residence for King William I, who, however, balked at building too splendid an edifice, its foundation rests on two town houses occupied by Louis de Belgiojoso, the Austrian minister plenipotentiary, and Baron de Bender, military commander in the Austrian Netherlands, that were built between 1784 and 1792.
   The Belgiojoso town house had been used by the prefect of the département of the Dyle during the French regime, and Napoléon Bonaparte resided here on a visit in 1803. The two buildings were originally separated by a street, which no longer exists (rue Héraldique), and were linked by a portico-like central section in 1827-1829. The original plans were drafted by Ghislain-Joseph Henry, an architect from Dinant who died while the work was in progress. Charles Vander Straeten succeeded him, and he was followed by Tilman-François Suys, who added the monumental central section, gave the frontage a uniform appearance, and linked the structure to the Walckiers and Belle-Vue town houses. In 1862, the duke of Brabant, the future king Leopold II, commissioned Alphonse Balat to enlarge and alter the building. Several interior rooms were transformed into Louis XVI-style chambers. In 1902, Leopold requested architect Henri Maquet to redesign the frontage and government funds were procured in 1904. A Louis XVI-style façade runs the length of the place des Palais and comprises a monumental central portico decorated with Corinthian columns together with side pavilions, a dome, and a pediment on the portico, which features an allegorical sculpture of Belgium by Thomas Vinçotte (1850-1925).
   The royal apartments were occupied until 1936 when, following the death of Queen Astrid, King Leopold III moved to the Château royal de Laeken. Subsequent monarchs have remained there. The Palais Royal serves as the ceremonial residence of the sovereign, who uses it for receptions and public events. When the monarch is in residence, the Belgian flag flies from the dome.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

Look at other dictionaries:

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