If you happen to be short breaking in Brussels over the next week or so, don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the city’s most popular attractions, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, open to the public for just a tantalisingly short period each spring.
Situated to the north of Brussels amidst the parkland of the Royal Palace of Laeken, the Royal Greenhouses date back to the end of the 19th century and consist of a sprawling, six-acre complex of heated greenhouses – a glass city if you like – commissioned by King Leopold II and designed by Alphonse Balat, a student of Victor Horta, the renowned Art Nouveau architect whose work is so prevalent across the city.
Attracting hundreds of tourists each year for the brief three-week period in which the greenhouses are opened up to serious gardening enthusiasts and the general hoi-polloi, visitors will be able to explore a fusion of fragrant, floral delights amidst the Orangerie, Winter Garden (used in its time for royal receptions), Serre du Congo and Serre de Diane, as well as the ‘Iron Church’, a domed greenhouse that originally served as the royal chapel. Indeed, the glass cupolas, galleries and rotundas showcase a wide variety of colourful foliage, from verdant glades and soaring ferns to fruit trees and a myriad of rare and exotic plants and flowers, including an important collection of camellias, fuchsias and geraniums.
Open until Sunday, 9th May, entrance to the Royal Greenhouses is via the Avenue du Parc Royal and tickets cost €2.50, under 18s are free (closed Monday). Don’t miss out!