History of the buildings
Emblematic of some of the most illustrious periods in Brussels’ rich history, the buildings which house the Bip constitute an exceptional cultural ensemble.
The Hôtel de Grimbergen stands at numbers 2-4 of the Rue Royale, where it was constructed by the Abbey of the same name on the ruins of the former chapel of the Dukes Palatine, dating from 1524. It is in perfect harmony with the neoclassical style of the Place Royale as a whole.
Since the French Revolution, the Hôtel Grimbergen has been used for various purposes. The corner facing the park housed the Café de l’Amitié in 1830. From 1840 to 1845 the corner overlooking the Place Royale was home to the bookshop C. Muquardt, and thereafter became another tavern.
In 1920 the building was thoroughly refurbished for the arrival of the "Lloyds & National Provincial Foreign Bank Ltd". This renovation saw the creation of the marble staircase and the grand entrance hall of the Bip as it stands today, as well as the vast hall where the bank counters were located.
After its assignment to the Ministry for the Brussels Region in 1984, and to the Brussels-Capital Region in 1989, a further renovation was undertaken in the early 1990s in order to accommodate the regional authorities and open up the site’s various archaeological attractions to the public: the Aula Magna, the former Rue Isabelle and the ducal chapel constructed here during the reign of Emperor Charles V.
Situated at numbers 11-12 Place Royale, the Hôtel de Spangen was built by the count of the same name on the site of the former Hôtel de Hoogstraeten, owned by Antoine de Lalaing in the sixteenth century. Set in a private courtyard protected by a grand archway constructed in 1776-1777, this neoclassical building dates from the late eighteenth century. Residence of William of Orange from 1821 onwards, it was seized by the state following the Belgian Revolution. The new Belgian government used the Hôtel de Spangen first as the headquarters of the military high command, then as the Ministry of Public Works, and then as the Ministry for Railways. The Court of Accounts was installed here in 1897, requiring significant renovation work; this period saw the construction of the grand staircase with its immense glass panels, as well as the general assembly room with its stuccoed ceilings, richly gilded and decorated with vibrant colours. Every Thursday the Brussels-Capital regional government meets in this beautifully restored assembly hall.
In 2004, the regional government decided to make all the buildings of the Place Royale open to the public.