Hidden Belgium: King Leopold’s chalet

Hidden Belgium: King Leopold’s chalet

A strange wooden building stands on the left side of Rue Brederode in Brussels, just outside the palace walls.

The window boxes are planted with geraniums, like a mountain hut in Norway. Not many people in Brussels could tell you why it is there. Nothing gives away its secret history.

Yet this is one of the most interesting buildings in this neighbourhood.

It was built for Leopold II after he visited the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1899. The king was struck by a Norwegian chalet built by an architect called Knudsen. He had a copy built in Brussels in 1906.

Leopold ran his African colony from this strange Norse folly. The four stars on the side wall, copied from the Congo flag, are the only clue.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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