Lonely Planet Writer

Could Philippe of Belgium’s Castle of Schonenberg become a public park?

The garden of Philippe of Belgium’s home, the Castle of Schonenberg in Brussels, could become a public park if draft legislation passes through government this week. The palace is currently closed to the public, aside from three weeks each spring when its Royal Greenhouses welcomes visitors.

Castle of Schonenberg in Belgium
Castle of Schonenberg in Belgium Image by Gipfelhund on Facebook

Located 5 km north of the city centre in the Laeken neighbourhood, the Castle of Schonenberg has been the royal residence in Belgium since 1831 with King Leopold I the first royal to reside there. Its landscaped gardens, which were designed under the guidance of England’s Capability Brown, stretch across an area the size of 250 football pitches and are surrounded by a 6 km-long wall.

Built between 1781 and 1785, the Castle of Schonenberg was restored in a classical Louis XVI-style in 1902 after a fire caused the original to burn down in 1890. Its Royal Greenhouses date from 1873 and were designed by architect Alphonse Balat. Some of the plants in the Royal Greenhouses date from King Leopold II’s original collection, which include flora from all around the world. It is not yet known how close the public will be allowed to the Castle of Schonenberg itself.

Other nearby sights include the Domain Royale, three palace-villas that belong to Belgium’s ruling family; the Pavillon Chinois, a Chinese pavilion from Leopold II’s reign which boasts an extensive collection of Chinese porcelain; and Tour Japonaise, a gallery that promotes Japanese art.