After staying hidden underneath the BELvue Museum for over 200 years, the Coudenberg Palace was rediscovered by archaeologists in the 1980s and is now an unusual and accessible city-centre archaeological site sure to wow the whole family.

The original palace, built upon a large hill, burnt down in 1731 and in the years that followed the whole Royal District was levelled so that construction of a new, larger royal residence could take place. During this time, the underground areas of the palace were preserved below the new buildings and it is these cellars and chapels – some dating back to the sixteenth century – which make up the majority of the area visitable today.

Twenty-five years of careful excavation work have left Brussels with this fantastic on-going project-meets-visitor attraction, perfect for little explorers to test out their investigative skills. Like the BELvue, which provides access to the ruins, the Coudenberg encourages children to use their imaginations and investigate the site.

The Underground Treasure Hunt (suitable for ages 5 to 8) transports children back to the reign of Charles V and tasks them with the job of helping to find the Golden Fleece

A backpack full of explorer’s essentials is given to every treasure hunter and there’s a prize for every child after they’ve – usually with some help from parents! – located the gold. For ages 9 and over, a booklet available here – which must be printed at home before your visit – which suggests fun things to spot and do during the visit.

Top tip… Due to its location, many visitors choose to visit the Coudenberg in conjunction with the BELvue making discounted combination tickets for entry to both the most popular option.

Photo courtesy of Veronique Evrard