The Bellevue hotel was built in 1776 on the first plot of land at Place Royale/Koningsplein to be sold to a private individual, with the first owner being wealthy wine merchant and innkeeper Philippe de Proft. He had a hotel for travellers built there, designed to meet the architectural requirements laid down by Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, who was keen to preserve the uniformity of Place Royale/Koningsplein. Over the years, the hotel’s guests included French novelist Honoré de Balzac, the Austrian Empire’s one-time chancellor and foreign minister Prince Klemens Metternich, and Jérôme Bonaparte (Napoleon’s youngest brother). The building was purchased in 1902 by the Fondation de la Couronne and subsequently used as a residence by one of King Leopold II’s daughters, Princess Clémentine. Soon after her marriage, the future King Leopold III and Queen Astrid redecorated it and moved in there. It was unoccupied from 1934 until 1953 and was loaned to the Red Cross before becoming a museum of decorative arts, then a museum of the Belgian royal family (known as the ‘Museum of the Dynasty’) and, finally, a museum of Belgian history. Visitors to the BELvue Museum can learn more about Belgium through the lens of the seven themes explored in the museum’s rooms – democracy, prosperity, solidarity, pluralism, migration, language and Europe. Each theme is fleshed out by modern-day takes on these areas and then examined through history, offering a modern and original way to better understand the Belgium of today. The gallery also showcases over 200 pieces embodying Belgium’s ‘physical memory’. These include a Magritte lithograph, several Val Saint-Lambert crystal vases, a motorcycle and a football signed by the Belgian men’s national team, nicknamed the ‘Red Devils’, thus providing a real insight into the many facets of Belgianness! (Listed 22/12/1951)
Music has the power to bring people together, whether during a concert, a Red Devils football match or a guided tour of the BELvue Museum. On the Heritage Days, visitors will find out more about Belgium and its history through songs that have shaped Belgian history and brought together its people, among them the Brabançonne (Belgium’s national anthem), the Internationale (the socialist anthem), J’aime la vie (Belgium’s 1986 Eurovision Song Contest-winning entry) and Torremolinos (a Belgian chart hit). They will also learn about the origins of these works. No musical talent is needed – the tour is open to all, provided you warm up your vocal cords! Guided tours: “Belgium’s more amusing when you sing!”: Sat. & Sun. at 15:00 (in French); 14:30 (in Dutch).
Sat. & Sun., 10:00 to 18:00
Place des Palais/Paleizenplein 7, Brussels
By reservation only
Accessible with assistance