Evolution of a 'royal house'

The palace in the city was built in 1745 by Jan-Alexander Van Susteren, after plans by Jan Pieter Van Baurscheit. Napoleon acquired the palace in 1811 and had some changes made to convert it into an imperial residence. He would never stay there however. After his defeat at Waterloo, the palace became the property of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

After the Belgian revolution, the Belgian kings became the owners of the palace. On 21 July 1831, Leopold I made his Joyous Entry into Antwerp and repeatedly appeared on the balcony. He would stay there often. The palace was mainly used as place for gala dinners and receptions for foreign guests. The most famous room in the palace is the hall of mirrors, which Leopold II had built in 1905 after plans by the architect Octave Flanneau. He drew inspiration for this room from a ballroom in a palace on Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore (Italy).

In the Fifties, the palace was no longer deemed suited for royal guests. Ownership was therefore transferred to the Ministry of Dutch culture, which decided to convert it into a cultural centre. In 1996, the Flemish Community became the owner, restoring the palace and turning it into “a palace for the public”. Nowadays the hall of mirrors is used as a venue for dinners, receptions and presentations again.

The Hall of Mirrors