Botanical Garden of Brussels
|Jardin botanique (in French)|
Kruidtuin (in Dutch)
Botanical Garden of Brussels main building, Le Botanique
|Public transit access||Botanique metro station|
The Botanical Garden of Brussels (French: Jardin botanique de Bruxelles; Dutch: Kruidtuin van Brussel) stands on Rue Royale in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, near the Northern Quarter financial district in Brussels. Its main building is a cultural complex and music venue known as Le Botanique.
Shortly after the annexation of Belgium by France in 1795, a first Plant Garden (Jardin des Plantes) was created at a different location, along the first wall of the city, on the site of the gardens of the former Palace of Coudenberg. The collection of native and exotic species quickly attracted interest, but due to the growth of the city, this garden had to be relocated to its current area near the Northern Quarter.
In 1815, Belgium became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1826, five notable botany enthusiasts acquired a beautiful wooded lot, in what was then a suburban town north of Brussels, to create an ensemble housing the already existing collections of plants. The Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands was born.
The garden building was partly designed by architect Tilman-François Suys. The main orangery (Le Botanique) is composed of a central rotunda with a dome, and two side aisles lined with windows leading into buildings with columns at each end. The building and gardens were officially inaugurated with fireworks, celebrations and a banquet for the first exhibition of horticultural products organised by the Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands from 1 to 3 September 1829.
At the country's independence in 1830, the institution became the Royal Horticultural Society of Belgium. The Botanical Garden was in dire need of funds, thus a plant trade was established at the Orangerie in 1835, with various vegetables being cultivated in the basement. This would accidentally lead to the birth of the Belgian Endive.
After decades of financial uncertainty, the Belgian state bought the garden in 1870 and commissioned various fountains, electrical lighting, and the addition of numerous sculptures in order to both beautify the park and stimulate public art and artists in the country. Fifty-two sculptures were executed between 1894 and 1898, a project overseen by two well-known sculptors, Constantin Meunier and Charles van der Stappen. Some of the 43 sculptors involved include:
The Laurel (or Fame), sculptor Jules Lagae
During the 1930s, the works of the North-South junction did not spare the Botanical Garden. It was decided to entirely move the botany institution to a larger site. In 1938, most of the botanical resources were removed to the new National Botanic Garden of Belgium in Meise on the outskirts of the city. And the old garden was reduced in size and made into a park after part of its western premises were used to facilitate a north-south road-viaduct.
The original garden building now stands as a cultural center called Le Botanique, while its historical statues, and its remarkable collection of species of large trees, remains intact.
It can be accessed by the Botanique/Kruidtuin metro station on line 2 of the Brussels metro. However it is closed to the public and it is not possible to walk through the gardens. The best you can do is stand on the terrace of the Orangerie at the Cafe Boca and look over the garden.
- Belgium and Holland, including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg ..., Part 11 By Karl Baedeker (Firm)
- Frommer's Brussels and Bruges Day by Day By Mary Anne Evans, pg. 95
- Partially translated from French Wikipedia article accessed 8/31/10
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