As has been tradition for a century, the Royal Glasshouses in Laeken have reopened to the public for the period of around three weeks, from Saturday April 21st until Friday May 11th. The Congo Glasshouse, which is subject to restoration is nearing completion, but will again be open to visitors this year.
Michel Dekens, the Steward of the Laeken Royal Estate, says, “Alphonse Balat, Léopold II’s architect, designed the glasshouses.” He goes on, “The construction of the first glasshouse, the Winter Garden, began in 1874, with the construction of the final glasshouse ending in 1905.”
The glasshouses, with remarkable classical style architecture, contain some plants stemming from King Léopold II’s original plants, and a multitude of rare species.
For persons of reduced mobility a shorter unique route has been laid out. Moreover, a special day for persons with reduced mobility is, once again, planned for this year. That event will take place on Tuesday May 8th. On that day, the route earmarked for disabled people will be extended to cover almost all of the glasshouses (around 90%). Around 50 Belgian army volunteers will provide individual support to people in wheelchairs.
As indicated above, this year will be also marked by the reopening of the Congo Glasshouse, and its sub-tropical plants, to the public. The renovation works, started several years ago, are being finalised.
The general public will also be able to see a tree offered to the King by the former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. This is a tree cutting from the “Survivor Tree”, located close to the World Trade Center and which survived, despite the Twin Towers collapsing during the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
The opening hours of the Royal Glasshouses, in Laeken, will depend upon the given days of the week. There are 12 evenings during which the glasshouses are planned to be open. Between 100,000 and 115,000 visitors are expected throughout the entire period through to May 11th.