The Belgian capital has seen many important visitors over the centuries. They come. They stay a few days. And then they are forgotten.
One of the most forgotten is Tsar Peter the Great, who travelled to Brussels 1717. He is said to have drunk from a spring in the woods near the ducal palace and fallen backwards into the water.
A bust was put up close to the hidden valley where the Tsar drank the water. The inscription says that he ‘ennobled the fountain by drinking his wine there at three in the afternoon.’ No mention at all of his fall.
A statue near this spot was carved by the baroque sculptor Jérôme Duquesnoy the Younger. It represents Mary Magdalene lying in a grotto reading a book. It remains a mystery how the statue came to be in this hidden valley below the royal palace.
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.