The galleries of the Laken Cemetery

The Laken cemetery in the Brussels-Capital Region is the oldest Brussels cemetery with medieval monuments and tombs. The funerary architecture is roughly equivalent to the style of the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The choir of the old Church of Our Lady is still preserved in the cemetery of Laeken. You will find one of the copies of The Thinker on the grave of art collector Jef Dillen, made by Rodin himself in 1881.

In the 19th century, the town of Laeken became a favorite of the Belgian nobility and bourgeoisie, who came to enjoy the peace and the wide beautiful landscapes.

The Belgian royal family also settled here and still lives there today, in the castle of Laeken. Many prominent Belgians are buried here, especially from Catholic backgrounds. You will also find the graves of some 125 Belgian soldiers who died in both world wars.

Picture by Dirk De Nil

In the middle of the 19th century, Emile Bockstael devised an inventive solution for the lack of space in the Laeken cemetery. He designs a burial gallery so that more people can be buried in the limited area. He proposes to build this cemetery underground, in contrast to the above-ground gallery in southern Europe. The first part is put into use in 1878. Afterward, there are several extensions. In 1935 there are about 300 meters of underground galleries. 4061 chests can be placed. Following restoration works, the galleries were reopened to the public in 2017.