What to see in Brussels: Botanique

Something to see, visit and enjoy in Brussels and Belgium ; this week : Botanique

Le Botanique (French) or Kruidtuin (Dutch) is a cultural complex and music venue in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Brussels. The building was previously the main orangery of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium and even as part of the garden had hosted cultural events. In 1958, the National Botanic Garden of Belgium moved to Meise, outside of Brussels. Le Botanique opened in 1984, and the gardens in front are now the Botanical Garden of Brussels.

Since 1984 Le Botanique has been the cultural centre for the French Community of Belgium.

Nowadays it features a busy schedule of concerts, most taking place in either the 700-capacity Orangerie, the tall, circular Rotonde with space for 250 or the vaulted Witloof Bar with 200 standing places. Other rooms in the building are typically used for art exhibitions or film screenings.[2]

In addition Le Botanique manages the concert agenda for the nearby Cirque Royal, a hall able to hold seated audiences of 2000, or more standing.

The annual Les Nuits Botanique (‘Botanique nights’) festival, held during the spring, sees a large number of musicians performing. In addition to the regular rooms, a marquee is frequently erected in the garden.

Program for June 2018: botanique.be/en/agenda/2018-06
History

 

The first botanic garden in Brussels belonged to the Ecole Centrale du Département de la Dyle that was created during the French rule of Belgium at the end of the 18th century. Due to their costs, those French schools were soon dropped and some municipalities, including the City of Brussels, took over the garden that was about to be abandoned. In 1815, Belgium became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Around the same period, the maintenance costs of the garden were regarded as too high by the city administration. A group of local bourgeois decided to create a new kind of botanical garden in Brussels. At the time the bourgeoisie was the new leading-class and since companies were popular financing method the garden was created as a company. The creators thought it would be their contribution to the city’s reputation. Although it was rooted on a private enterprise, it was also supposed to be a national institution dedicated to science.

Both the City and the Home Office supported it financially. But, the Independence of Belgium (1830-1831) was detrimental to the Dutch-born institution: it was regarded as Orangist, as a mere playground for the local elites, and as not useful for the country’s agriculture, among other critiques. From then on, the garden would have to battle to survive. The state and the city did not want to support it anymore unless it proved useful to the whole country, so the Garden was obliged to develop its commercial activities. It sold plants by the thousands, and created several money-consuming attractions and events for the local élite, like aquaria, a dance room, fairs, a fish nursery, concerts etc. In the 1860s, the aging buildings required renovation. The board of the Society of Horticulture tried to raise the money, but the costs were just too high for the company. In 1870, the Belgian Government took over the company. The National Botanic Garden was created in the very same year. Barthélemy Dumortier (1797-1878), a Belgian politician and botanist, had played a major role in this process. He wanted a “Belgian Kew” to be created in the capital of Belgium, that is to say a botanical garden dedicated to taxonomy. That is why, some months before the garden was bought by the state, the Belgian Government had purchased the famous von Martius Herbarium that was held in Munich. So, in 1870, Belgium had a great herbarium and an appropriate building. This was the dawn of a new era for Belgian botany.

What to see in Brussels: the Grand Place

Something to see, visit and enjoy in Brussels and Belgium ; this week : Grand-Place of Brussels

History of the Grand-Place
At the Grand-Place, numerous historic events took place:

  • 1523: the first Protestant martyrs, Hendrik Voes and Jan Van Essen, are burned by the Inquisition there
  • 1568: the counts of Egmont and Hoorn are beheaded there
  • August 1695: during the War of the League of Augsbourg, most of the houses on the Grand-Place were destroyed during a bombardment of the City by the French troops of marshal De Villeroy. Only the facade and the tower of the City Hall, which were the target, and some stone walls resisted the flaming canon balls. The houses surrounding the square were quickly reconstructed, in stone this time, by the various guilds. Among these, the house of the Brewers guild which shelters the Brewers Museum today.

Events on the Grand-Place
Nowadays, numerous festive or cultural events are organized on the Grand-Place:

  • The Flower carpet (77 x 24m, event organized every 2 years in mid-August and with more than 500.000 begonias
  • The Ommegang which commemorates the tribute created in 1549 during the coming of Charles the Fifth in Brussels to present it his son, the future Philippe II
  • The Zinneke Parade is a biennial parade held in the city of Brussels, Belgium since 2000; a different theme is chosen for each parade. ‘Zinneke’ is a nickname chosen to represent people from Brussels. The word originally referred to city stray dogs which hung around the streets by the Little Zenne (a tangent canal of the river Zenne which ran round Brussels along the city walls) until the end of the 19th century. The parade was established with the aim of connecting the many different cultures, communities and districts within Brussels. The director of the Zinneke association, Myriam Stoffen, has talked about the desire to ‘build bridges’ between these parts of the city. The organisers of the parade aim to work with a large variety of institutions, schools, cultural centres, organisations and societies. Residents work together with professional artists to create the ideas and prepare the projects which eventually make up the parade. Next one is in May 2018.
  • The Christmas tree
  • The daily flower market
  • The procession of the Meyboom

July 21th: Belgian Independence Day

Today in Belgium we celebrate our Fête nationale, Nationale Feestdag, or Independence Day.

It was on 21 July 1831 Leopold of Saxe-Coburg swore allegiance to the Belgian constitution in the Sint Jacobs Church on the Coudenberg in Central Brussels.

Leopold I thus became the first king of the Belgians. The great powers at that time recognised the Belgian independence and so our little country was born.

Happy Birthday Belgium!!! (Hetalia -character: source art: http://phoenixysky.deviantart.com/art/APH-Belgium-438762520 )
Maybe inspiration for a custom Blythe???  😉