Coudenberg is the name of the hill where Place Royale is located, but the hill takes its name from a castle that stood on Coudenberg hill from the Middle Ages. The area was called Coudenberg, meaning Cold Mountain, because it is high up and exposed to the cold winds of the north.
The castle on the hill used to be one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. From the 11th century until the 18th century, the palace was the residence of Emperor Charles V. However, a fire broke out in the 18th century. The cause of the fire was said to be a fault in the kitchen, but this was an official explanation.
The sister of Emperor Charles VI retired to her room after a tiring day, but forgot to blow out the candles. In the middle of the night, the wooden structures caught fire and spread to the rooms one by one. This is the beginning of an irreversible disaster. Attempts to extinguish the fire with buckets and water sprays are unsuccessful. Bad and freezing weather conditions also hindered the aid and a large part of the castle burned down.
After the fire, this area was left untouched for 40 years due to lack of money. 40 years later, during the removal of the palace ruins and the renovation of the royal district, the ground was leveled with earth and stones.
New buildings were built on the site, which we still see today, and the people of Brussels forgot about the old castle. After the 1910s, historians who had been exploring the basements began to slowly discover the castle site. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that archaeological excavations began.
I recommend it if you like to see hidden and old history that is not well known. But don’t expect fancy chandeliers and luxurious carpets. This is a small and remnant of the old castle. You need to visualize the palace itself. Only then will you enjoy it.
The area you visit is actually completely below the area where the statue of Godfrey de Bouillon is located in the square. Place Royale, Rue Royale and some of the surrounding buildings make up this archaeological area. In the Great Hall section called Aula Magna, you can understand that the upper part is the square.
Coudenberg Museum is a museum you will encounter during your underground tour. But the museum is not underground, it is above ground in the direction you are heading, in the room of an old house. These are the artifacts found as a result of excavations at the Coudenberg site over the last 25 years. Among the artifacts are ceramics, glasses, small objects, pieces of armor, etc.
What are the entrance fee and visiting hours at Coudenberg?
If you want to see the palace ruins of Coudenberg, you can enter for free with your Brussels Card. You can visit between 09:30 – 17:00 on weekdays except Mondays and between 10:00 – 18:00 on weekends and July – August.
Where is Coudenberg? How to get there?
Coudenberg is one of the buildings overlooking Place Royale, the Royal Square. You can get there by taking the tram number 92, 93 to Royale and Palais, and buses number 27, 38, 71 and 95 to Royale.