Founded in 1826, the Royal Low Countries Horticultural Society partly financed the project, seeing the creation of a botanical garden as a way to develop its commercial activities. The Society quickly forgot its original scientific aspirations and began to publish its first catalogues of plants, seeds and bulbs from 1830, just a few months after the garden was officially opened. The focal point of a park designed by architect Charles-Henri Petersen, the vast greenhouse building built to house the collections from an earlier botanical garden was opened in 1829. Decorative artist Pierre-François Gineste directed the works based on plans by architect Tilman-François Suys. Respecting the traditional structure of orangeries, he conceived an imposing central rotunda with cupola, flanked by two wings, each terminating in a slightly offset pavilion. The glass walls that fill the spaces between the columns of the rotunda and cover the portico delimited by this same colonnade are combined with the greenhouses attached to the side wings. Today, the premises are home to Le Botanique, the Cultural Centre for the French-speaking Community.
The park, which was developed on what was previously a series of ponds, small woods, fields and vegetable gardens, was laid out in terraces to take advantage of the steeply sloped topography of the site. It was enlarged in 1842 and again in 1854. After the Second World War, its plant collections were transferred to Meise. Reconfiguration of the park was required after it was intersected by Boulevard Saint-Lazare/Sint-Lazaruslaan. This work was entrusted to René Pechère who, for the 1958 World Fair, designed a garden divided into three separate terraces. The French-style formal garden, strictly compartmentalised and planted with flowering shrubs, is laid out in front of the greenhouses and orangery. The middle section, inspired by Italian designs, features a star-shaped rose garden and a flowerbed containing 40 different species of iris. The third, lower section of the park is designed in the style of an English landscape garden, with winding pathways, shrub-lined lawns and the gentle trickling sound of water from ornamental lakes. Close to 55 remarkable trees have been listed within the 6 hectares of the park, which has been severely impacted by development of the city’s inner ring road, the North-South rail junction and the metro. (Listed 15/04/1964)
Walking tours with the park’s gardeners and wardens. Saturday and Sunday at 14h00 (duration: 1 hour). Starting point: on the upper terrace, at the entrance on Rue Royale/Koningsstraat. In cooperation with Bruxelles Environnement/Leefmilieu Brussel.
Walking tours “From the Botanical Garden to the greenery of the Administrative City!” and “The Botanical Garden of Brussels and its bronze sculptures” and guided tour “Mystery in the Botanical Garden”.