Royal Library

The Royal Library, also called the Albertina in honour of King Albert I, forms part of a major complex of urban development initiated after the Second World War to provide a link between the upper and lower parts of the city. Built in the classical style and influenced by the official, academic style of the late 1930s, the building encompasses the ancient Nassau chapel, converted into an exhibition space, and houses almost seven million books. Extending from the main entrance, the library offers a plant-filled patio that is very popular with students and, something not so common, an experimental vegetable garden set up on the cafeteria terrace. Started in 2012, it is aimed at the production of herbs and medicinal plants and raising awareness of their use. A geodesic dome greenhouse serves as a nursery while the plants are watered using harvested rainwater fed drop by drop to the 500 pots containing the plants. A collection of honey-producing, sweet-smelling flowers attracts foraging insects and encourages pollination. The herbs installed on the roof serve as a small botanical garden with a highly diverse collection of plants used for conducting workshops, tours, training courses and making herbal tea. Since July 2017, the plants have been sold at a monthly market held on Fridays.

Guided tours “From the herbaria of yesteryear to the garden of today” focusing on the representation of plants in books before discovering a number of native Belgian specimens on site. Saturday only at 10h30, 11h30, 13h00, 14h00 and 15h00 (French) and at 11h00, 12h00, 13h30 and 14h30 (Dutch). Up to 20 people per tour. In cooperation with the Centre national d’Histoire des Sciences and the association Début des Haricots.

Practical information

  • Mont des Arts
    1000 Brussels
    • Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 17h00
    • M
      Gare Centrale/Centraal Station
    • B
      Bozar
    • B
      Gare Centrale/Centraal Station
    • B
      Bibliothèque/_Bibliotheek