Tuesday, August 19, 2014


August 19, 2014

When I have visitors from abroad, I try to show them places which are not yet so well known by tourists, but will be in the future as Brussels is in full bloom for renovating and promoting other interesting historical sites of Brussels. 

One of them is the Church of Our Lady of Laeken which was originally built in memory of Queen Louise-Marie, wife of King Leopold I to the design of architect Joseph Poelaert. The first stone was laid by Leopold I in 1854. The church was consecrated in 1872, but not completed until 1909 after a lengthy interruption of the work. The crypt holds the tombs of the all Kings and Queens of Belgium. The Royal Crypt is generally open every Sunday 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Unfortunately the day I was there the church was closed.

The adjacent Laeken Cemetery behind the church is sometimes known as the "Belgian Père Lachaise" (Paris)  because it is the burial place of many famous, rich and nobel people. It is a classified site and which originated in the Middle Ages, and is the oldest cemetery in Brussels still active and the last cemetary in Brussels,  implanted around a church. It owes much of its popularity and its rich heritage because of the funeral burial of Queen Louise-Marie in 1850 in the above mentioned church.

The cemetery houses very fine examples of nineteenth-century funerary art and also features an original bronze cast of Auguste Rodin's Thinker, purchased in 1927 by the antiquarian and art collector Josef Dillen to use as his own memorial. Next to the entrance, there is a small museum dedicated to the sculptor Ernest Salu (1845-1923) and his successors. Many of the monuments that embellish the cemetery are products of the Salu workshop.

The graves look all very impressive !

The ideal place for Halloween pictures ! Fortunately the sun was shining and it didn't look too haunted !

On some of the graves were these beautiful sculptures created by Salu. They look a little dramatical to my taste !

In the cemetary is also a crypt, which was closed for renovation.

photo from Internet

This crypt with many galleries was built in 1878, at least for the first seven galleries. The reason was that the cemetery was sorely lacking space. Built between street artists and the Notre-Dame de Laeken, no extension was possible. The construction of the crypt has led to the vaults on many levels, including an average of five to six instead of two to three. The decision to undertake this work was taken by Emile Bockstael, then maïeur Laeken. The crypt has three main galleries and a dozen cross. It will certainly be open to the public in a near future. 

Virtual tour of the cemetary


Indrani said...

What a place! It will be indeed scary to visit at night!
Great pics from the place.

Photo Cache said...

so beautiful and impressive. this won't be secret for long.

Fun60 said...

There is a certain fascination to cemeteries especially the ones with the huge graves and monuments.

Bonny Bonafilla said...

What an amazing place. I'd never heard of it before, but thanks to your article it's on my list of places to go next time I'm in Brussels. Great post, Gattina. Thanks for sharing it, Bonny

Alexa T said...

Amazing and interesiting pics!! We have a cemetery like this in Bucharest, too! And it is included in the Night of the Museums, actually! Also, the church is so majestic and a beautiful building! Thanks for sharing them...

Linens and Royals said...

I love old cemeteries, the graves are so elaborate. Nothing like it here of course.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

The sculptures are indeed beautiful, but also kinda creepy. That cemetery would definitely give the jitters if I happened to be in it at dusk.

The church is so beautiful and so ornate. I wonder how long it took to build it.

Take 25 to Hollister

Mike said...

What a beautiful place! I love seeing houses of worship when I travel.

Iowa Voice

Anonymous said...

Wow how beautiful! I know it sounds weird but I've always been interested in monumental and historic cemeteries....


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I love writing, traveling and photography. . I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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