When I watched the news on television two weeks ago, I knew what I needed to do. Visit the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken. Finally. This year.
Even though I’m a belgian girl and the capital is only a 30-minute train ride away, I never managed to visit the Royal Greenhouses. Simply because of one reason: they’re only accessible three weeks a year for the common man – or woman -, luckily during spring when most flowers bloom. The rest of the year the Royal family can enjoy the greenhouses all by themselves – didn’t I tell you the greenhouses are a part of the King’s garden? -. Believe me, there’s plenty of beauty to enjoy.
Since I’m an architecture lover – you will read this a lot – my main reason to say hi to the King and his garden were the monumental glass-and-metal pavilions that form the whole complex of greenhouses. It’s pretty impressive to see those sky-high cupolas that form one of the main monuments remaining of 19th century architecture in Belgium. Pretty advanced for their time. The elegant lines of the metal framing, intricate details and a little crown on top of the Winter Garden make the whole image complete.
And then I hadn’t seen the tropical plants yet. First of all, the complex is huge. It took me two hours to stroll through the greenhouses and I still have the feeling it was too short a time to absorb all the colours and beauty around me. Not only does the tropical collection now still respects the spirit and atmosphere of the 19th century collection of plants, it still contains some of the plants of King Leopold II’s original collection – not a man to be proud of, but he had good taste –. I can go on and on about which plants and how the light looks when it enters through the leaves of the palmtrees and how delicate those ferns curl, but honestly, you should just go and see it yourself.
Definitely worth a visit.