Thursday, 15 August 2013

Exploring the abandoned Hippodrome of Boitsfort in Brussels

Nightshot from the track
Night shot of the main terraces from the race track. The white tower on the right is where
officials were located
This post shows the photos of the Hippodrome de Boitsfort in August 2013. Tom, Ningmeng and myself figured it was worth paying a visit this piece of Brussels history.

Main terraces
Main terraces viewed from the top of the officials tower
Located on the northern edge of the Sonian Forest and in the south of Brussels, the hippodrome was built in 1875 (1) and the only one of its kind in the Brussels region.
Building where horses were weighted
Building where horses were weighted
The grasses have been used by the
Brussels Golf Club since the late 80s
Photo taken from the terraces
Despite what its name says, the hippodrome is not located in Boitsfort but is actually in Uccle, for unknown reasons.



The track is fairly small and spectators could therefore easily follow the entire race. This feature was however not adapted to all horses since they were racing clockwise and curves were fairly steep.
Originally property of the 'Société d'Encouragement des races de chevaux et le développement des courses en Belgique', the non-profit organisation was liquidated in 1995 and the site became property of the Brussels Region.

The tower on the left & main terraces on the right
The officials tower (left) and main terraces (right)
The liquidator obviously had decent skills in 'monkey business' and he started renting the premises without authorisation. Although he had one to rent the grasses to the golf club, he also apparently rented the place to a company in the restaurant industry for a ridiculously low rent (2).
What once was 'La Mezzanine'
What once was 'La Mezzanine', a posh disco where Thursday
night parties were held.
Most posh inhabitants of Brussles will remember the Thursday night parties @ 'La Mezzanine'. This was once of the two 'place-to-be' with the 'Jeux d'hiver' on Thursday nights.
The abandoned rooms of the disco 'La Mezzanine'
Inside what's left of 'La Mezzanine'
Inside 'La Mezzanine'
Hippodrome de Boitsfort - Stairs to the roof
Stairs to the roof
The roof fence, sign of a prosperous past
The guardrail of the roof, sign of a prosperous past
One of the interesting features of this site is that it has been very little modified during its life as a hippodrome.
A strange metallic room hanging from the side of the building
A strange metallic room hanging
from the side of the building
The second staircase going directly to the roof
Second staircase going directly to the
roof (left) and strange metallic rooms
hanging on the side of the building (right)






















A dent in the back wall, viewed from a broken window of the staircase
A dent in the front wall, seen from a broken window
of the staircase
As of today, nobody knows what will become of this wonderful place in Brussels. Abandonned for almost 20 years, it is the city's ambition to make a recreational site for families but no convincing project has been made so far (3).

Note: You can view all my photos of the Hippodrome de Boitsfort in this gallery.

Sources:
  1. Wikipdia - Hippodrome de Boitsfort (in French)
  2. La Libre - L'incroyable imbroglio de l'hippodrome de Boitsfort (in French)
  3. RTBF - Bruxelles: que va devenir l'Hippodrome de Boitsfort ? (in French)

2 comments:

  1. Great shot and history! I just discovered this place today while on a run and want to return to explore it more thoroughly. It's neat and creepy and oddly very open to get into. In the US a place like this would be completely boarded up.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks !
      Did you get a chance to explore the building? I found the building well boarded up: there was only one little opening when I went there this summer.

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