Parks and Gardens

Parks and Gardens
   Parks, gardens, woodlands, and undeveloped land account for approximately 53 percent (8,500 ha / 21,000 acres) of the total area of the Brussels Capital Region (BCR), making Brussels one of Europe's "greenest" capitals. Areas accessible to the public total about 18 percent of the BCR. Management of public parkland is divided among the BCR government, largely under the Institut bruxellois pour la Gestion de l'Environnement/Brussels In-stituut voor Milieubeheer/Brussels Institute for the Management of the Environment, and also the communes (e.g., Parc de Bruxelles, Bois de la Cambre, Parc Josaphat), and the royal house (e.g., Parc Duden).
   Parks and gardens exhibit differing styles reflecting their dates of origin—from Renaissance concepts evident in the gardens of Erasmus house to 18th-century formal patterns showcased in the Parc de Bruxelles to the hanging gardens laid out in the 20th century at Pechère.
   Preeminent in size, the Forêt de Soignes has been aptly dubbed the "lungs of Brussels." Within the city of Brussels, the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Parc de Bruxelles, and Parc de Laeken perform dual roles both in providing tranquil space and in serving as venues for museums, theaters, and royal residences, respectively.
   A vestige of the Forêt de Soignes, the Parc de Woluwe (71 ha / 175.4 acres) in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre constituted part of the royal domain when it was laid out (1896-99). Bequeathed to the state in 1909, it was renovated in 1975. Laid out in the English style, the park features many rare species of trees, including the giant sequoia. Also in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, the Parc des étangs Mellaerts dates from the 19th century and features the Woluwe windmill (Moulin Brulé) where working demonstrations have been held since 1960.
   The Parc Josaphat in Schaerbeek, opened by King Leopold II on 6 June 1904, features English-style walkways and derives its name from a pilgrim who, in returning from the Holy Land in 1574, was struck by the similarity of the terrain here to that of the Josaphat valley.
   The Parc du Wolvendael in Uccle dates from 1793. The Jardin des Plantes médicinales de l'Université Catholique de Leuven is located in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, which contains the largest collection of medicinal plants in Belgium and one of the most important in Europe.
   The Bibliothèque Pechère (rue de l'Ermitage 55), the library of Belgian landscape architect René Pechère (see MONT DES ARTS), houses approximately 5,750 books on landscape design and horticulture, including rare tomes from the 16th and 17th centuries.
   The BCR contains 13 nature reserves and two forest reserves. Since 1976, a competition "Fleurir Bruxelles" promotes floral embellishment of area sites. The year 2000 was named "the Year of Parks and Gardens in Wallonia and Brussels" when special events were held highlighting the importance of maintaining green spaces in the urbanscape.
   See also Jardin National de Belgique; Parc des Expositions; Parc Léopold; Warande.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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