European Quarter in Brussels is richer for another park – Citizens’ Garden is located in the grounds of the former residence and studio of the 19th century artist Antoine Wiertz, just 100 metres from the European Parliament’s official entrance.
The garden opened to the public for the first time in September 2020 thanks to investment and renovation by the European Parliament. The garden is diverse with trees, benches and lawns including some original features, such as an imitation-ruin column of Italy’s Paestum temple. Sculptures of historic European philosophers and artists emphasise the historic nature of the grounds. The garden also has a music pavilion offering a perfect spot for concerts and similar events.
Works to redevelop the house and garden began in 2016 through a public-public partnership between the European Parliament and the Belgian state. A 50-year lease was signed for €1 on the condition that the European Parliament renovate both the garden and house, and open the garden to the public. The house is currently undergoing reconstruction works and will open in a couple of years.
Discover the EU District: The Citizens’ Garden + visit to the EU Parliament
Garden offers a chance to step into a serene, green oasis amid the busy European Quarter. Visitors should also not miss other points of interest in the immediate vicinity – House of European History, Parlamentarium as well as the possibility to visit the Hemicycle of the European Parliament. Visits to all of these institutions are free of charge.
Who was Antoine Wiertz?
Wiertz (1806-1865) was a Belgian romantic painter and sculptor. Famous for using gigantic canvasses, his paintings and artworks could be more than 11m long, infused with social or philosophical messages. Wiertz is one of the most important representatives of Belgian romanticism and monumental art. Antoine Wiertz first moved to the site in Ixelles in 1850 and developed the concept of the studio, the house and the garden himself. Large parts of the house and studio were constructed in 1850-1852, though the site was only finished some years later.
On his death, Wiertz gave his works, the studio, the house and the garden to the Belgium state, which opened the studio as a museum in 1866. The studio, house and garden were all classified as listed-buildings in 1997 for their historical and artistic values. The Wiertz Museum is set to undergo reconstruction works. It belongs to the Royal Fine Arts Museum and houses more than 200 of the artist’s works. The garden remained closed to the public until September 2020.
To check the opening hours and more relevant information, consult the Citizens’ Garden page on the Visit European Parliament website.