Many locals and tourists walk past the Royal National Library without ever entering or even noticing the building. The entrance is a bit tucked away in a corner of the Monts des arts/Kunstberg park and it doesn’t really look that attractive from the outside. Oh yes, maybe you noticed that old chapel horrendously built in the huge 50’s building. This is the only remain of the Nassau Palace that used to be on this spot and was the house of the counts of Nassau. This 15th century gothic chapel is now used as a room for temporary exhibitions (check them out here)
But let’s focus on the good things, and one of those is the organic rooftop garden. When you enter the building and take the elevator all to the top of the building you end up in the cafetaria, a wonderful 50’s relic that hasn’t been touched since it was installed. You continue to the rooftop terrace and suddenly you are in another world.
Bright colorful outdoor furniture and a huge organic vegetable garden. This garden was installed in 2012 and is a joint initiative of the library and the organisation “Le début des haricots”. Le début des haricots wants to make people aware of environmental pollution, with a focus on food. They try to bring together local farmers and consumers and also promote growing vegetables and fruits yourself. The garden on the library’s roof has not only the purpose of providing the cafetaria with home-grown organic vegetables, but also to inform the public about organic and sustainable food. The 350m2 garden even has it’s own grow house and a solar pannel that supplies electricity for the automatic irrigation system. It’s really interesting to see what is possible on an otherwise unused roof. And you get an amazing view on the Monts des arts/Kunstberg on top of all this.
So don’t hesitate to pay a visit to the garden. It’s open during the opening hours of the Library’s cafetaria.
Royal National Library of Belgium : Kunstberg/Mont des arts or Keizerslaan/ Boulevard de l’Empereur 4, 1000 Brussels (Cafeteria and garden are at the 5th floor)
Opening Hours cafetaria : Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 16h00
http://www.kbr.be/ (only in French and Dutch)