|In the suburb of Laken/Laeken, just outside the city center, lies the royal domain with the "Chateau de Laeken", or the royal residence. Whereas the palace in Brussels is the official office of the king, the royal residence in Laken is the place where the royal family lives. It was built in 1772 by Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, the Governor of the Austrian Netherlands as his residence. After the French take-over of power in the southern Netherlands it was purchased by Napoleon in 1804. After the battle of Waterloo in 1815 it became the property of King William I, king of the united Netherlands. Another change of owner occurred 15 years later in 1830 when Belgium became independent. King Leopold I received it as a gift from the Belgian state. After a fire in 1890 it was rebuilt and enlarged. It became the permanent residence of the royal family during the reign of King Leopold III.|
In the royal park the greenhouses draw most attention. The construction of these magnificent botanical gardens started in 1870. Among the participating architects were Alphonse Balat and the young Victor HORTA, who would later become the leading Art Nouveau architect in Belgium. The collection of beautiful tropical plants and flowers can only be visited by the public during 10 days in April and May.