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  • Museum of Ancient ArtMuseum of Ancient Art Brussels, Belgium
    The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium has become one of the most famous museums in the country and can be found in Brussels, Belgium in the downtown district of Coudenbery. Four museums are connected with the Royal Museum and two of them, the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art reside in the main building. The other two, the Museum of Constantin Meunier and the Antoine Wiertz Museum are devoted to the Belgian artists and are smaller, located in other parts of the city. The Royal Museum houses over 20,000 sculptures, drawings and paintings that date from the early 15th century to the current day. The museum has a large collection of Flemish paintings that include; Rogier van der Weyden, Anthony van Dyck, Bruegel, Jacob Jordaens and Robert Campin, the master of Flemalle. The museum has a Rubens Room with 20 of the masters paintings and has the Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. The changing exhibits has shown the works of Belgian artist Leon Spilliaert and another exhibit that showcased Christmas food in Flemish paintings. One of the finest collections is that of the old masters that include over 1200 paintings. The first floor houses the 15th and 16th century masterpieces that include Barend van Orley, Dirk Bouts, Lucas Cranach, Hieronymus Bosch and Quentin Metsys. The pride of the museum is the Bruegel collection that contains the Landscape with the fall of Icarus, which is considered one of the seven wonders of Belgian and is also one of the most prominent masterpieces of the museum. 

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  • Royal PalaceRoyal Palace Brussels, Belgium
    The Royal Palace of Brussels is where the King of the Belgians lived in the city of Brussels, Belgium; but it is not used as the primary residence of the royal family, since they chose to live in the Royal Castle of Laeken just outside of the city. It sits in front of the Brussels Park with a long square called the Paleizenplein/Place des Palais separating it from the park. The middle of the park and the palace are in the same area, with the middle of the Palace of the Nation or Belgian Federal Parliament building facing towards the royal palace. These two building summarize the type of government that the country has; a constitutional monarchy. The facade that is visible today was constructed after 1900 by order of King Leopold II, although the nucleus dates back to the late 18th century. The grounds though were part of the old palatial complex that dates back to the middle ages. The first palace was placed on Coudenberg Hill during the 11th and 12th century making it seem like it was part of the fortifications of the city and was home to the Dukes of Brabant, who also lived in the close city of Leuven and in the castle of Tervuren. In the following centuries the palace was rebuilt, enlarged and improved by the increased statue of the people that lived there, starting with the Dukes of Brabant, then the Dukes of Burgundy, the Emperor Charles V and lastly the Archduke Albert of Austria and Infanta Isabel of Spain. The throne room was constructed for Philip the Good in the 15th century and it was here that the Emperor Charles V abdicated in 1555 for his son, Phillip II of Spain. The elaborate complex was destroyed by fire in 1731, and the ruins were taken away after 1775.  The new palace was started by Charles Alexander of Lorraine, the current Governor of the Hapsburg Netherlands, and had it built on the former site of the palace of the Nassau family, which is now part of the Royal Library of Belgium. The former palace garden was then designed to become a public park and a new building for the Council of Brabant was built on the north side. After the Belgian revolution, the palace was offered to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg as he ascended to the throne as the first King of the Belgians. Just as his predecessor William II, Leopold used the palace for royal functions and lived in the Royal Castle of Laeken. While he reigned, until 1865, there were few changes made to the palace, until his son, Leopold II came to power and thought the palace was too small for someone of his statue. So he started to enlarge it and continued doing so until his death in 1909. During that time, the palace size was almost doubled.

January 11, 2011