In the 11th century, the Counts of Louvain
built a castle on the higher Coudenberg area. This decision was
behind the rivalry between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ parts of the
On the hill between the upper and lower parts of the city, a halfway site came into being: la Montagne de la Cour. This place links and separates two completely different worlds.
In 1731, the old Palace was destroyed by fire. The place was abandoned for 40 years, becoming known as “the burned court”.
In 1775, Charles de Lorraine had Place Royale built.
It was King Léopold II who decided to turn the whole of the district into Mont des Arts. The King dreamed of making Brussels a modern and cultural capital city and Mont des Arts the treasure of his country and witness to the history of Belgium.
And it was on Mont des Arts that our first sovereign took the oath in 1831 more than 175 years ago.
The garden of Mont des Arts
The Mont des Arts district is a pivotal historic place in the
history of Brussels.
It has prompted heated debates on many occasions. With the 1910 World Fair in prospect, it was decided to redevelop the urban canker that the Mont des Arts district had become.
The garden that the French landscape architect Pierre Vacherot designed would be criticised for its falsely picturesque "Alpine village-style" character. Nonetheless, the park was adopted by the people of Brussels as the leafy-green meeting point, ornamented with waterfalls, between the upper and lower parts of the city.
In 1937, an architectural competition was launched to design the Arts district, with provision for the Royal Library, a memorial to Albert 1, the Print Room, the National Archives and the Museums of Fine Arts.
Following many vicissitudes, the project devised by father and son architects Ghobert was selected and building work began in 1955 with the destruction of the Vacherot park following a lengthy battle between defenders and opponents of the project.
In the summer of 1955, the landscape gardener René Pechère was called in to collaborate on the completion of the garden as an adviser on the parks and gardens of the city.
The planning and development programme made it necessary to design a garden with levels compatible with those of the Royal Library, giving priority to the view of the Town Hall spire. It was also necessary to fulfil the wishes of the people of Brussels who were outraged at the disappearance of the Vacherot gardens, by providing for flower beds, ornamental ponds and planted areas.
In the course of planning, it was decided to build a three-storey car park beneath the future garden, which turned this area into a "hanging garden", the first of its kind. To solve this problem, René Pechère drew inspiration from the techniques of the hanging gardens of Babylon.
The garden is managed by the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (IBGE), which supervises it and takes care of the planting and flower beds. (www.ibgebim.be)