Palais de Charles de Lorraine

Palais de Charles de Lorraine (29)

This palace was designed by the architect Jean Faulte on the site of the former Nassau Palace, which belonged to Charles of Lorraine, who was governor of the Austrian Netherlands from 1744 to 1780. It is said, also, that he was an important patron of the arts and that even the young Mozart played in this palace. 

Today, however, little remains of that magnificent Louis XVI-style building as it has been sacked and abandoned several times in its history. Of its many halls, libraries, chancelleries and private rooms there thus only remains the wing that faces the museum square. 

If you observe its facade, which was decorated by Laurent Delvaux, what will no doubt most capture your attention will be the series of garlands, cornices and statues. Specifically, in the surrounding balconies you will discover four allegorical sculptures of War, Peace, Prudence and Religion. Above these, four children symbolise Justice, Temperance, Strength and, once again, Prudence. Take a look, also, at the lion of Fame figure, which crowns the building and represents Belgium.

Observe, also, the large entrance gateway, built to allow carriages to penetrate the interior circle and thus protect guests from the inclemency of the weather. 

Once inside, you will notice that at the foot of the staircase there is a beautiful white marble sculpture, which represents Hercules and was also designed by Delvaux. Elsewhere, at the top of the staircase, you will see some interesting bas-reliefs that symbolise earth, fire, air and water and appear to reflect Charles of Lorraine’s great interest in alchemy.

However, the most interesting feature of this site is undoubtedly the circular hall, which has striking black and white flooring, in the centre of which there is a star with 28 points, each of which is made in a different type of Belgian marble. 

After this hall, you will come to the five summer rooms, painted in different colours. Take a particularly careful look at the first room, on its fourth wall panel you can discern a secret window that looks out onto the palace entrance. This, it seems, was used to provide the Duke with prior knowledge of the identity of visitors. 

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