The Royal Palace of Brussels

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It is a good day in Brussels today. The sun is shining, there is a mild cooling breeze and there are a lot of cocktail booths in the streets. Woohoo! Turns out today is the Summer Festival; there are a couple of stages where bands are playing, food, drinks. But that is not why I was there. My plan was a bit more of a sofisticated affair: a visit to the Royal Palace of Brussels. I had never been there before in my 7 years in Belgium (4 of them living in Brussels), so a visit was due. Here are some shots of the palace in question, for my non Belgian residents

Should you visit this site? It is a beautiful place, so the answer is yes! But hurry up! It’s only open until mid September (palace is only open for visitors once a year, during the summer)

The big selling point of this site is that the entrance is free, which is amazing considering I’ve been to other palaces of equal or lesser magnitude and I’ve had to pay entrance fees. The tour moves rather quick, you go through all of the different rooms open to the public, bask in their decadence and then head back out. It took me and my family about one hour to go through.
Now, there is one reason it moves rather quick: no information displays or audio guides for what you are seeing. You can buy a tour guide for 1€ at the entrance, which I didn’t get because I figured they’ll have some information, plus, I had already read online what I’m going to see.

Interesting fact: you are not supposed to take indoor pictures. The website says it, there is a sign at the door that says it, but go in and surprise, surprise! Everyone’s taking pictures and no one is saying a thing. I was very pleased to see you are in fact allowed to take pictures. Not sure why they have that sign then. Perhaps there is no budget to print a new restrictions sign (a single board that says no pictures, no dogs, no strollers, no backpacks, no fries – ok, they mean food with that one)
The tour begins at the grand staircase. It is a beautiful and as the name says it, very grand way of entering the main rooms. As you can probably imagine we are not going to have the same rooms you would have in any house. A palace has so many rooms, once the run out of bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, reading rooms, dining rooms, studies, and patios, they have got to get creative with the room names: white room, vase room, mirror room, Goya Room (because of paintings from this artist)…. Interestingly enough, and one of those things that really fascinates me about monarquies and their places of residence is that all these rooms do have a purpose other than housing objects and paintings. Some of these were rooms used as audience rooms for the King or Queen, another room was used as a sort of VIP dining room, and sure, some rooms are indeed intended to have beautiful art pieces and furniture.

Grand Staircase

Here are some more room pictures and details:

One of the White Rooms. I’m guessing this one’s the small one

This is the other White Room and, yes, this one is the large one! (they probably ran out of names and creativity)

Artwork at the place

Artwork at the palace

Grand piano at the Blue Room

The highlight of the visit, and the rooms that really are quite impressive are the Throne Room, the Grand Hall, and the Mirror Room. The main feature of these rooms that make them so unbelievably awesome? Huge crystal chandeliers. Check out this bad boy here:

The Throne Room of course is where the king shows whose boss. By today standards, this can probably be one kick-ass wedding venue, or say, New Year’s Eve party type of place. I’m pretty sure they don’t rent it out, for such events, so don’t get your hopes up!

A couple of teapots were seen dancing here, along with a very sassy French candlestick

The Grand Hall, as you probably imagine, also goes along the lines of our party theme: the rooms has been used as a banquet or reception hall. The common these in all the rooms so far, the chandeliers:

The larger rooms, like the Grand Hall pictured here, are mostly bling

The Mirror Room is perhaps one of the most widely mentioned rooms in most reviews about the Royal Palace. Inspired by the Congo, the original construction was marble and copper. In 2002 the artist Jan Fabré covered the ceiling and main chandelier with jewel beetle wing cases. Is it an impressive room? Sure. Did I find it better than the others? Not really. It was pretty underwhelming. My husband thought this one was the best and probably lost a bit of the impressive feel due to this interactive exhibit for kids by Technopolis (which, by the way, was pretty cool). Well, you need to go there and be the judge yourself!

Spectacle of color or dead Thai bettle carcasses? You decide

My overall feeling after visiting was quite possitive. For all its grandeur and elegance, I found the decor quite tasteful and not at all over the top, especially when compared to other more opulent castles such as Versailles, etc. The rooms are particularly well ventilated. It was scorching hot outside, but the inside was pretty ok. The light coming through from the outside reflected on the chandeliers made the place look a little more magical.

 

Paola’s mood after visiting this site?

 

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