Built in the 12th century, the Coudenberg developed into one of Europe’s most important royal palaces, eventually becoming the main residence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 16th century. Soon after its destruction by fire in 1731, the palace was razed to make room for a new city layout, and, later, the current Royal Palace.
Visitors can explore the Coudenberg on self-guided tours independently or aided by audio guide or free mobile app. Along the way, roam subterranean rooms that served as kitchens and cellars; walk along the former Rue Isabelle; and see recovered artifacts at a small museum. The Coudenberg is also a stop-off on some Brussel tours—including select bike excursions and private tours that look beyond the city’s most obvious tourist sights. The Brussels Card grants access to the ruins.