They say April showers bring May flowers. Well that’s one way to be optimistic about the grey and wet weather we’ve had these last few days. One hopeful sign that spring is on the way – flowers are starting to bloom. What better place in Brussels to see some spring flowers than the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken.
Open as of this Friday, 13 April, the greenhouses are a striking example of 19th century architecture located on the grounds of the Royal Palace in Laeken. The palace is the main residence of the Belgian Royal family and the grounds are only open once a year for a viewing of the greenhouses and gardens. This tradition has been carried out for over a century.
The complex was designed by architect Alphonse Balat (Victor Horta’s teacher) for King Leopold II to complement the style of the palace. Built between 1874 and 1895, the glass and iron greenhouses span 2.5 hectares and are connected by glass-roofed galleries. Two of the most impressive buildings are the domed ‘Jardin d’hiver’ and the ‘Iron Church’, a greenhouse that originally served as the royal chapel and that now houses an indoor swimming pool. The greenhouses contain a wide range of flora and many rare species, including some of the plants belonging to Leopold II’s original collection.
The greenhouses are only open for three weeks (until 6 May, closed Monday) rain or shine, so this is a great way to enjoy seeing spring flowers even if the sun isn’t out (something hard to guarantee in Belgium). To see them lit up at night, visit the greenhouses on weekend evenings when they are open until 10pm.
Entrance to the gardens is through the gates of the Laeken palace and there is parking available opposite on Avenue de la Dynastie.
Domaine Royal de Laeken
Avenue du Parc Royal, 1020 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 513 89 40
Open: Tuesday to Thursday 9:30am-4pm, Friday 1-4pm and 8-10pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:30am-4pm and 8-10pm
Images via Visit Flanders, Wikipedia and Lucnix.