Palace of the Nation - Belgian Federal Parliament

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Palace of the Nation - Belgian Federal Parliament ( 640x480 )
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In the building called Palace of the Nation the Belgian Federal Parliament seats. It has been the headquarters of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate since 1831. It is located in Brussels, on the address: Place de la Nation, Rue de la Loi 16.

The Palace of the Dukes of Brabant stood on the site of present-day Palace of the Nation. When it was destroyed by fire in 1731, the surroundings of the Place royale and the Park of Brussels were rebuilt according to the plans of French architect Barnabé Guimard. At the same time, it was decided to build the Palace of the Nation. The first stone was laid in 1779 under the government of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, who ruled over Belgium at that time. It was finished in 1783. The palace was built in the balanced and symmetrical style typical for the second half of the 18th century – the Age of Enlightenment – in Neoclassicism.

Originally, the palace was meant to house the Sovereign Council of Brabant – the supreme body of the Duchy of Brabant in legal and administrative matters. The palace had two other functions before it became the seat of the Belgium Federal Parliament. During the French rule in 1796 – 1815 the palace was used as a courthouse and under the Dutch rule in 1815 – 1830 it alternatively housed the Parliament of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, known as the States-General (its sessions have been held also in Hague). This was the first time that the palace was used to house a parliament. In 1830 the provisional government (the government of Belgian revolutionaries) and the National Congress (the first constituent “parliamentary” assembly) moved into the building. A year later, the first session of the House of Representatives and Senate was held here. Since then, the building has been called Palace of the Nation.

The palace was destroyed by fire in 1820 and 1883. The result of the renovations that followed is mostly changes in the interior. The exterior has remained basically the same as when it was built. The only change is that the original front façade painted according to the neoclassical tradition in white was roughcast during the renovation in 1920.

It is possible to visit the Palace. However, visits are possible only for groups, on request, two months in advance.
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