Laeken.Brussels

© S. Malaisse

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The Atomium, the Heysel complex with its stadium and Brussels Expo, Rodin’s Thinker, the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion, all of this and many more can be found in Laeken.

10 places to visit in Laeken

Atomium

The Atomium, the flagship building of Expo58 - the world exhibition which was organised on the territory of Laeken in 1958, has become the very symbol of Brussels. It attracts by its modernist architecture and its panorama on the city. It also houses a museum on the Expo58, temporary exhibitions and a panoramic restaurant by a renowned chef.

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ADAM - Art & Design Atomium Museum

The Atomium’s design collection, as well as a huge private donation, have allowed the creation of the Art & Design Atomium Museum in 2015. ADAM hosts a permanent exhibition of the world’s biggest plastic design collection, the Plasticarium, along with temporary exhibitions on design topics.

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Mini-Europe

In the international political and journalistic world, Brussels is synonymous with the European Commission. The city is proud to host on its territory the main European institutions. Nothing more natural than exploring this European topic in the miniature park Mini-Europe, which showcases the emblematic buildings of the capitals of the European Union. Mini-Europe is located a stone's throw from the Atomium (and can also be admired from the panoramic sphere of the latter).

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Heysel

With two world exhibitions in 1935 and 1958, the Heysel not only saw the Palais des Expositions and the Atomium, but it has remained since the main venue of the major fairs in Brussels: Batibouw, The Auto Show, Made in Asia, Bokenfestijn ... to name but a few annual events. The Palais 12 is now the main hall for international stars - and on the Heysel plateau, the King Baudouin stadium hosts the national football team and the most important athletics event in the country, The Van Damme Memorial. A major development project is under way, NEO, which aims to exploit this territory even more to set up a congress center, shopping center and housing.

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Royal greenhouses

It's every year in spring time when search results for Laeken go up: the greenhouse's effect. The magnificent glass and steel construction which was designed for Leopold II opens its doors in April-May to present its collections of flora and exotic trees. This event is also an opportunity to admire the beauty of an immense royal park which is closed to the public for the rest of the year.

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Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion

Both the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion were commissioned by Leopold II. The two buildings, which house collections of Japanese and Chinese art in an unusual setting, form together the Museum of the Extreme Orient (run by the Royal Museums of Art and History). They are currently closed for renovation, but their beautiful garden is always accessible.

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Greenery theatre at the Osseghem park

Located next to the Atomium, the Osseghem Park hides a quite romantic open-air amphitheater, the "théâtre de verdure". During the summer months, this is the place to be for events such as Brosella, a two-day folk and jazz festival which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016.

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Florist’s Gardens

A quiet piece of green with a stunning view of Brussels, the Florist’s Gardens (which are - of course - a heritage of Leopold II) are accessible either through the Colonial Garden or the Sobieski Park. Just follow the signs - all the parks in Laeken are connected to one another by the Green Walk.

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Our Lady of Laeken and Laeken cemetery

The cemetery of Laeken is often referred to as the "Père Lachaise bruxellois". It hosts an original statue of Auguste Rodin's Thinker and the only example of underground galleries in Northern Europe. In front of the cemetery, the imposant Church of Our Lady of Laeken is the site of the Royal Crypt of Belgium, consecrated in 1872, and the resting place of the Belgian royal family.

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Much more than the Royal Greenhouses and the Atomium

Laeken derives its fame from its castle: a few months after the birth of Belgium in 1830, it became the residence of the Belgian sovereigns.

Nowadays, Laeken has even more to offer than the royal estate and its surroundings. A wide variety of tourist attractions – historical heritage, cultural life and outdoor activities – await visitors from Belgium and all over the world.

More specifically, Laeken can be proud to count on its territory the two main tourist attractions of the Brussels region: the Atomium and Mini-Europe.

But that’s not all. Laeken is full of surprises and hidden treasures such as the miraculous spring at the top of the drève Sainte-Anne, Rodin’s thinker at the cemetery of Laeken or the Monument to Labour by Constantin Meunier, a friend of Rodin’s.

 

Extraordinary gardens and parks

With its prestigious history as a royal residence and having been the site of the 1958 World Fair, Laeken today counts a multitude of gardens and parks. Laeken is a green municipality.

The expressive garden architecture covers a wide variety of styles and periods, from the 19th century to the present day. The most remarkable green spaces are adjacent to the royal estate: Laeken Park, Osseghem Park, the Colonial Garden, the garden of the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion, the Florist’s Gardens, the Sobieski Park and the Square of the 21 July.

All these parks are interconnected by the green promenade, a circuit between all parks and forests of the Brussels region.

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We never pass by Brussels without stopping in our favourite corner of the Belgian capital. Every visit to Laeken has brought us something new to savour. A bustling street market with irresistible bargains. A leisurely walk through green parks, past a fountain with reputed healing properties, to the foot of the Atomium. A graveyard with its very own Rodin statue. A library with children's activities and delectable 'tapas' style lunch dishes at a reasonable price. A funfair on the place Bockstael. The Royal Greenhouses... Although perhaps not on the beaten track, this part of the city is well worth a visit!

S. Schokkenbroek (NL)

Laken is een onderschat stukje Brussel, vol groen, cultuur en fijne burgerinitiativen.

Jan & Sieglinde