Mont des Arts
The area of the Kunstberg/Mont des Arts used to be a densely populated district, the Sint-Rochuswijk/Quartier Saint Roches. By the end of the 19th century, King Leopold II had the idea to convert the hill into a Mont des Arts and bought the whole neighbourhood. After the demolition of the old buildings, the site turned into an ugly urban void because the Mont des Arts project lacked sufficient finance. To give the area, situated between the Royal Palace and the Grand Place, a better look during the Universal Exposition held in Brussels in 1910, the king ordered the landscape architect Pierre Vacherot to design a 'temporary' garden on the hill. It featured a park and a monumental staircase with cascading fountains descending the gentle slope from Place Royale down to Boulevard de l'Empereur/Keizerslaan.
Although the garden was conceived as temporary, it became a well-appreciated green area in the heart of the capital. But when the plans for the Mont des Arts came back by the end of the 1930s, this park had to be demolished to create a new square as the centre of the urban renewal project. Between 1956 and 1958 the park and its surroundings gave way to massive, severely geometric structures such as the Royal Library of Belgium and the Congress Palace. The new geometric garden on the square was designed by landscape architect René Péchère.
The Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels' finest views. From the elevated vantage point, the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place is clearly visible. On a sunny day, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen.
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