Hello, I'm Nicolaas Rockox

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The hidden city gardens of Flanders

During the 17th century when Peter Paul Rubens was around, having a garden was a true status symbol. It is, after all, the ultimate reflection of your wealth. Rubens once grew potato plants and tulips in his garden. The potato plant is an ornamental plant from America and tulips are very expensive.

Plantentuin Meise

Plantentuin Meise - Plantentuin Meise - © Plantentuin Meise


Rubens loved gardens

The most expensive book in Rubens' library (and he had a fair few) is a book on gardening. Believe it or not, but the gardener was the best paid out of all of Rubens' staff. It goes without saying that the most important houses and palazzi of that time had a stunning garden. Have a look at these beauties. Did you know that even Antwerp Cathedral has a small enclosed garden?

Cathedral of Our Lady, Groenplaats, Antwerp

Cathedral of Our Lady - Groenplaats, Antwerp - © Antwerpen Toerisme en Congres

The most beautiful gardens of Antwerp

Start your day with a visit to the Rubens House, followed by the palazzo of one of his good friends and mayor of Antwerp, the Rockox House. It is thanks to the Rockox's archives that we know so much about the plants and flowers of that time. Staying in Rubens' era and also well worth a visit are the cinematic garden of St Paul's Church and the hidden garden of den Wolsack. The Elzenveld is part of the oldest hospital of Antwerp and has an adjoining herb garden. Some of these historic spots were revived. For example, the Botanical garden of Antwerp is home to a genuine gingerbread house where can you find the divine lunch restaurant Het Gebaar. To avoid disappointment, reservations are a must. This is also the same for The Jane, Sergio Herman's restaurant, which is situated within the enclosed gardens of the old Military Hospital.

Contemporary green masters

Even now, Flanders still has internationally renowned specialists in flowers and gardens, including Mark Colle from the florist's Baltimore Bloemen. Many international fashion designers go wild for his flower arrangements. His confrère Daniel Ost is known as the World's Leading Floral Designer, and then there is the famous landscape architect Wirtz. Other international leading figures include Thierry Boutémy (famous for the breath-taking bouquets in the film 'Antoinnette' by Sophia Coppola), Eric D'Hondt and Bureau Bas Smets.

Are you interested in beautiful gardens, parks or green gems?

Here is a selection that I can highly recommend.


The Royal greenhouses. Please note: the greenhouses can only be visited during a three-week period each year.

Royal greenhouses, Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels

Royal greenhouses - Avenue du Parc Royal, Brussels - © Tourisme Monuments et Sites


National Botanical garden: 92 hectares of castle grounds including the recently renovated Plant palace, the only one in the world to simulate all climate zones.

Botanical garden, Nieuwelaan, Meise

Botanical garden - Nieuwelaan, Meise - Source


The castle of Gaasbeek: This French walled garden has a unique espaliered fruit tree collection, which has been ranked number one in the world for centuries.

Castle of Gaasbeek, Kasteelstraat, Lennik

Castle of Gaasbeek - Kasteelstraat, Lennik - Source


Park Abbey
The art gallery with the most beautiful garden in Flanders is The White House Gallery.

Park Abbey, Heverlee

Park Abbey - Heverlee - Source

White House Gallery, Lovenjoel

White House Gallery - Lovenjoel - Source


The gardens of Hoegaarden

Gardens of Hoegaarden, Houtmarkt, Hoegaarden

Gardens of Hoegaarden - Houtmarkt, Hoegaarden - Source

Flanders is beautiful.

I'd love to show you around some more of the region.

Fully experience Flanders' wealth.

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