- Originally planned to be a parade ground, the place Royale, located on the summit of the Couden-berg hill, was occupied by only a few isolated buildings in 1769 when the city council and Governor Charles of Lorraine decided to develop the grounds. Work on the site, situated behind the Couden-berg Palace, evolved into an ambitious scheme to create an imposing regal square. Designed by French architects Barnabé Guimard (1731-1805) and Nicolas Barré in 1774, the square is perfectly symmetrical in the neoclassical style. The place Royale was earlier known successively as place de la Cour, place de Lorraine, and place Impériale.The center of the square was adorned by a statue of Charles of Lorraine. It was toppled in 1794 during the French regime and the metal melted down to mint coins. A tree of liberty, which replaced the statue, was burned down in 1814. The equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon (ca. 1060-1100) that now stands in the square was crafted by Eugène Simonis in 1848.In the 19th century, banks, insurance companies, elegant hotels, and upscale terrace cafés adorned the square. A traditional site for royal ceremonies, the place Royale served as the site for the investiture of King William I and King Leopold I. It is largely surrounded by museums and ministries today.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.
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