Jardin Colonial/Koloniale Tuin

© Alfred de Ville de Goyet

In 1905, King Leopold II acquired three hectares of land which he added to his estate in Laeken/Laken in order to create a tropical garden. He had greenhouses built there to provide a home for the tropical plant collections of botanist Émile Laurent, a professor at the Gembloux Agronomic Institute. Laurent had brought them back from the Congo and planted them in a hothouse in Gembloux, before bringing them to Tervuren in 1897 for the International Exhibition. He was a member of Horticulture Coloniale, the company tasked with collecting any plants in the Congo that could be useful for manufacturing or decorative purposes. Some of these plants were presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition, which led to the idea of creating a colonial garden in Laeken/Laken. Initially, the collection was kept in the Stuyvenberg greenhouses, before being transferred to others, built around 1902, in the gardens of the Villa Van der Borght. During the First World War, the greenhouses in the Jardin Colonial/Koloniale Tuin were no longer heated, and many of the plants died. Those that survived were eventually transferred to the Meise Botanic Garden in 1951. In the early 1960s, the greenhouses were demolished and the park turned into a permanent public space. The Norman-style timber-framed villa was built for Leopold II by the architect Haneau.

Practical information

Avenue Jean Sobieski/Jan Sobieskilaan – Avenue des Ébéniers/Ebbebomenlaan, Brussels-Laeken/Laken