Coudenberg (Former Palace of Brussels)
Built in the 12th century, the Coudenberg developed into one of Europe’s most important royal palaces, eventually becoming the main residence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 16th century. Soon after its destruction by fire in 1731, the palace was razed to make room for a new city layout, and, later, the current Royal Palace.
Visitors can explore the Coudenberg on self-guided tours independently or aided by audio guide or free mobile app. Along the way, roam subterranean rooms that served as kitchens and cellars; walk along the former Rue Isabelle; and see recovered artifacts at a small museum. The Coudenberg is also a stop-off on some Brussel tours—including select bike excursions and private tours that look beyond the city’s most obvious tourist sights. The Brussels Card grants access to the ruins.
Things to know before you go
- The Coudenberg is great for history and archaeology fans.
- The site is partially wheelchair-accessible, and the museum almost fully accessible.
- Entry is via the BELvue Museum on Brussels’ Place de Palais.
- The Coudenberg offers restrooms, while the BELvue has a café-restaurant and gift shop.
How to get there
The Coudenberg is situated on the Place de Palais and best reached by public transit. Visitors can take trains to Brussels Central Station and make the short walk from there; catch a #92 or #93 tram to the Palais or Royale (Koning) stops; or take a #27, #38, #71, or #95 bus to the Royale. Both stops are a 5-minute stroll from the BELvue entrance.
When to get there
The Coudenberg is open daily, excluding Mondays and key public holidays. As one of Brussels’ lower-profile sights, it’s rarely busy, so there are no good or bad times to visit. Allow about 90 minutes to explore and a little more time to visit the BELvue shop and café-restaurant.
The Coudenberg for Kids
If you’re visiting the Coudenberg with kids, consider booking one of the in-house treasure hunt tours to bring the palace and its story to life. Aimed at 5- to 8-year-olds, the tour tasks them with locating Charles V’s hidden treasure chest using a map, torch, and clues—and rewards them with a gift when they find it.
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- BELvue Museum
- Magritte Museum (Musée Magritte)
- Musical Instruments Museum
- Brussels Royal Palace (Palais Royal de Bruxelles)
- Museum of the Turn of the Century (Musée Fin-de-Siècle)
- Sablon District
- Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
- Grand Sablon Square (Place du Grand Sablon)
- MOOF Museum
- St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
- Hard Rock Cafe Brussels
- Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert (Les Galeries St-Hubert)
- Grand-Place (Grote Markt)
- Brussels City Museum (Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles)
- Brussels Town Hall (Hotel de Ville)