Laken Park Walking Tour (Self Guided), Brussels

Laken, also known as Laeken, is a park in a residential suburb of Brussels. Laken Park was formerly the official home to the Belgian Royal Family and is home to the Royal Castle, the Royal Greenhouses, the statue of Leopold I of Belgium, and more. Take this three-hour walk to visit the most famous attractions of Laken Park in Brussels.
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Laken Park Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Laken Park Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museum of the Far East
  • Winter Garden
  • Pier Greenhouse
  • Royal Castle of Laeken
  • Monument to Leopold I
  • Laeken Cemetery
  • Church of Our Lady of Laeken
Museum of the Far East

1) Museum of the Far East

The Museums of the Far East covers the Japanese Tower, the Chinese Pavilion and the Museum of Japanese Art. The Japanese Tower was constructed in Brussels under the guidance of Alexandre Marcel, a French architect; however, it incorporated ornamental elements that were produced internationally. A Tokyo-based carpenter constructed the porch feature. Before the porch was displayed at its current site, it was shown at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris. A Yokohama-based carpenter came to the site to work on aspects of the garden and some of the building details. The Japanese Tower has rotating exhibits on Japanese art and culture. The Chinese Pavilion was originally designed as a restaurant. It features kiosks and paneling that were constructed in Shanghai. The Chinese Pavilion has a permanent exhibit that focuses on Chinese porcelain that was made for export. The Museum of Japanese Art, which makes up the third part of the Museum of the Far East, presents a varied collection of Japanese Art from the Royal Museums for Art and History. Key collections that are displayed include pieces from the Edo period (1600-1868), such as metal arts, paintings, woodblock prints, ceramics, textiles, sculptures, and lacquer products. Admission to the museum gives you access to all three sites. A recorded audio tour is included with your paid admission to the museum.

Editor's note: The museum is temporarily closed for safety reasons.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Winter Garden

2) Winter Garden (must see)

The Winter Garden is also a greenhouse on the Laeken Park grounds. It was built in 1874-1876 according to the plan drawn up by the architect Alphonse Balat. The Winter Garden was the first garden among all the greenhouses and its dimensions are significant. Due to this, the garden is able to host some of the most beautiful species of palms and other plants.
Pier Greenhouse

3) Pier Greenhouse

The Pier is one of the Royal Greenhouses, built in 1886-1887 as the structure where the King received guests. Constructed in glass and metal, the Pier has two significant statues by Charles Van der Stappen. Containing a wide variety of plants, the Pier remains a magnificent greenhouse and a perfectly interesting piece of architecture.
Royal Castle of Laeken

4) Royal Castle of Laeken

The Royal Castle of Laeken is the official residence of the King of the Belgians. The castle was built at Laeken between 1782-1784 after the plans of the French architect Charles de Wailly under supervision of Louis Montoyer as a summer residence for the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Teschen. On 21 July 1803, Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as commissioner of the department of the Dijle, received Napoleon at the Castle of Laken. Napoleon stayed here with his Empress in August 1804. The Château was partly destroyed by fire in 1890 and rebuilt by Alphonse Balat. The French architect Charles Girault gave it its present outline in 1902. Upon their accession to the throne in 1993, King Albert II and Queen Paola preferred to remain living at Belvédère, a château on the grounds of the park surrounding the castle.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monument to Leopold I

5) Monument to Leopold I

Situated on the opposite side of the Royal Castle of Laeken, the Monument to Leopold I commemorates the life of the courageous king of Belgium. The monument was designed in a Neo-gothic style by the architect Louis De Curte. Constructed from nine bays, the monument has in its center the figure of Lepold I.
Laeken Cemetery

6) Laeken Cemetery

The Laeken Cemetery is one of the major cemeteries in Belgium. It is sometimes compared to the Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery in Paris. The cemetery features many examples of funerary art as well as a bronze case of Rodin’s Thinker. The Rodin statue was purchased by Josef Dillen, an art collector, to use as his own memorial. The Church of Our Lady of Laeken is adjacent to the cemetery and was built in the memory of Louise-Marie, Belgium’s first queen. Construction of the church began in 1854 and it was consecrated in 1872. Construction was completed in 1909. Beneath the church is the Royal Crypt, which serves as the burial place for the Royal Family. All former Belgian kings are buried here as well as the following royal tombs: Leopold II, Baudouin, Elisabeth of Bavaria, Prince Leopold, Price Baudouin, and Charlotte of Belgium. This crypt serves as the final resting place of the Belgian Royal Family. Next to the cemetery’s entrance is a small museum dedicated to Belgian sculptor Ernest Salu. Notable internments at this cemetery include architects Alphonse Balat, Joseph Poelaert and Leon Suys, writer Michel de Ghelderode, painter Fernand Khnopff, and Camille Jenatzy, a race car driver. You may visit the cemetery as an individual or arrange for a guided visit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of Our Lady of Laeken

7) Church of Our Lady of Laeken (must see)

The Church of Our Lady of Laeken (Église Notre-Dame de Laeken, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk van Laken) is a neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church in Laeken, Brussels. It was originally built in memory of Queen Louise-Marie, wife of King Leopold I to the design of architect Joseph Poelaert. Louise-Marie died in Ostend in 1850 and wished to be buried in Laeken. The nearby Royal Castle of Laeken was, and still is, the royal residence. Leopold I wished the church to be constructed in her memory and as a mausoleum for her. The young architect Joseph Poelaert was chosen to design the new church. The first stone was laid by Leopold I in 1854. The church was consecrated in 1872, but not completed until 1909 after a lengthy interruption of the work. The crypt holds the tombs of the Belgian royal family, including those of all the former Belgian kings.

Why You Should Visit:
Impressive very tall church with an even more impressive cemetery behind it that holds a number of very interesting graves, tombs, and art in the form of sculptures (including Rodin's 'Thinker').

The church is open in the afternoon, the cemetery the whole day from Tuesday to Sunday.
Before visiting, check the hours that the mausoleum is open (usually Sunday afternoons).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 2-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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