The Royal Palace, Brussels, Belgium

A Palace has stood on this site since the 12th century and was originally named the Coudenberg Palace, whose subterranean buildings can still be visited next to the Royal Palace. Coudenberg was home to the Dukes of Brabant and other Royal residents such as Charles V (Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire), this palace was destroyed by fire in 1731. After the fire two town mansions were planned for the site, one for government officials, the other for the Abbot of the nearby Coudenberg Abbey.

After the Congress of Vienna in 1814 Brussels became the joint capital of the newly established United Kingdom of the Netherlands. William I who was the King of the Netherlands at the time decided that both of the mansions on the site should be joined with a gallery. They newly created palace was connected by a beautiful neo-classic facade designed by Tilman-Francois Suys. Another Palace was built on the left side of the Royal Palace to serve as the residence of the Crown Prince (Prince of Orange). William II who inherited the palace used it mainly for official receptions and lived at the Royal Palace of Laeken.

After the Belgian revolution of 1831 the palace was offered to Leopold of Saxe-Conburg when he ascended the throne as the first King of the Belgians. His son Leopold II who came to power in 1865 judged the building to be too modest for a king and extended and redesigned much of the palace until his death in 1909.

Two of the most fascinating rooms are the White Room, littered with gold embellishments, and the Mirror Room. The ceiling and the central chandelier of this room have been covered with the wing cases of 1.4 million Thai Jewel beetles. The ceiling emanates a dark green unusual light.

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