Coudenberg Palace

Coudenberg Palace
   The palace that served as the residence of the rulers of Brabant from the 14th until the 18th centuries, the Coudenberg Palace, also known as the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant, evolved from the castle built on the Coudenberg hill by Count Lambert II of Leuven from 1041 to 1047. The castle served as a backup fortification for the fortress on the Senne River. Duke John I abandoned the swampy environs of the river and moved to the castle overlooking the lower town at the end of the 13th century. After construction of the second town wall (1357-1379), the castle lost its military significance and was transformed into a residential palace. Dukes of Brabant and Burgundy lived here when in Brussels, and, after the city became the official capital of the Netherlands in the 16th century, it became the residence of the duke or governor. As such, it served as the political nerve center of the country. The palace was known as the "inn of the princes" (auberge des princes) in the 17th century because of the number of foreign rulers, ex-rulers, and sovereign expatriates who visited here.
   The palace was periodically remodeled and embellished, notably under Philip the Good, Charles V, and Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella. It was completely destroyed by fire on the night of 3-4 February 1731. The city's water supply was frozen and inhabitants resorted to using beer in a vain attempt to extinguish the flames. Many art objects, archives, and government records were lost. The ruins were subsequently pulled down, the hill was leveled, and redevelopment was undertaken beginning in the mid-1770s. The site is now occupied, in part, by the Palais Royal. Recent excavations have unearthed halls and vaulted chambers (see CATACOMBS). Paintings of the palace are on view at the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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