This monument, which is also known as the Leopold monument, is dedicated to Leopold the first, who was the first King of Belgium (21 July 1831- 10 December 1865). It was inaugurated on Belgian National Day 21 July 1880. The architect was Louis de Curte. The basic structure consists of nine columns, arranged in a circle. The columns represent what were then the nine provinces of Belgium (In 1995 Brabant was divided into Flemish-Brabant and Walloon-Brabant, so there are now 10 Provinces in Belgium). Each column has a statue depicting that province:
- Antwerp (commerce and navigation);
- East-Flanders (mills and horticulture);
- Brabant (royal sceptre) ;
- Limburg (agriculture);
- West-Flanders, (fishing);
- Hainaut (coal);
- Liège (armoury);
- Luxembourg (hunting) and;
- Namur (metallurgy).
Each statue was designed by a different sculptor, which gives the monument a certain degree of some individuality and character. The statue of King Leopold I, sculpted by the renowned royal sculptor Guillaume Greefs, is located in the middle of the monument, on a plinth. The arches connecting the nine columns symbolise the unity of the nine provinces, and thus that of Belgium, surrounding and protecting their King. The spire of the monument is modelled on the spire of the town hall in the Grand place.
In the first photo, you can see that the statue is surmounted by a bronze sculpture “The genius of art” by Guillaume De Groot. It was removed for safety reasons, probably fairly soon after the memorial was inaugurated, as this postcard would tend to indicate:
The bronze sculpture is now on the roof of the Musee Royaux des Beaux arts.