According to a century old tradition, the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken are open to the public in spring and this Sunday afternoon TiB's personal reporter talked a Japanese tourist into taking his picture for the blog.
"During the 19th century, progress in construction techniques, especially the use of metal and glass as construction materials, made a new type of building possible: the greenhouse.
In 1873, architect Alphonse Balat designed for King Leopold II a complex of greenhouses which complement the castle of Laeken, built in the classical style. The complex has the appearance of a glass city set in an undulating landscape.
The monumental pavilions, glass cupolas, wide arcades that cross the site like covered streets, are much more than an anecdote on the architectural applications of iron and glass or on little greenhouses of exotic plants. What the Royal Greenhouses express concerns architecture and, specifically, a major construction programme: the "Ideal Glass Palace".
....they are a reminder that they inspired the new Belgian architecture of the day, and their influence spread, with Art Nouveau, throughout the world;
The present-day plant collection at the Greenhouses in Laeken is valuable from three viewpoints. First of all, some of the plants belonging to Leopold II's original collections still exist. Furthermore, the current collections still respect the spirit that prevailed when the original collections were planted. Finally, the Royal Greenhouses still contain an enormous number of rare and valuable plants."