Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Dutch: Koninklijke Serres van Laken, French: Serres Royales de Laeken) are a vast complex of monumental heated greenhouses in the park of the Royal Castle of Laeken in the north of Brussels. The greenhouses are world famous, but not a tourist attraction. The greenhouses are part of the Royal Park, and the royal private gardens and usually not open for visitors.
The gardens date of the 18th century, but King Leopold II changed the its garden-architecture. A brand new complex was commissioned by King Leopold II and designed by Alphonse Balat. Built between 1874 and 1895, the complex was finished with the completion of the so-called "Iron Church", a domed greenhouse that would originally serve as the royal chapel. The total floor surface of this immense complex is 2.5 hectares (270,000 square feet). 800,000 liters (over 200,000 US gallons) of fuel oil are needed each year to heat the buildings. After the death of the king the greenhouses were kept, but the Iron church was conversed into a private royal bathing house.
Famous is the royal botanic collection, with old plants from Africa and various species of flowers that are cultivated inside the royal greenhouses for use at court.
The royal complex can only be visited during a two-week period in April–May each year, when most flowers are in full bloom.
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