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Place Royale otherwise known as the royal square is natural hill at the edge of the medieval city center of Brussels. Initially the Duke of Brabant built a castle there in the 11th century. Over the intervening centuries subsequent Dukes, Kings and Emperors adapted the castle to suit them. By the 16th century the once rather modest castle had gone from ugly duckling to beautiful swan becoming one of the most arresting royal residences in Europe. In addition there was a splendid garden – now the royal park.

Disaster struck Place Royale on the 3rd of February 1731 in the form of a raging fire that totally destroyed the entire castle complex. Only good fortune and fast thinking managed to save some of the tapestries, paintings and other art objects. The Place Royale was rebuilt in 1769, but this time in the neo-classical style – a style that insisted on urbanization according to strict plans and rules. Any of the rich noble families that subsequently built homes in the Place Royale area were also subject to strict building codes to maintain some semblance of unity. The more time you spend here, the better you get to know the fascinating history of Brussels.

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