BYZANTIUM

BYZANTIUM

The economic expansion in the first half of the 19th century, and in particular the construction of a new railway line, led to spectacular population growth in this neighborhood. The parish chapel, where until then the worship services for this parish were held, quickly became too small for the 18,000-soul parish. There was a need for a new, spacious church. The city architect drew the plans, but after disagreement about the stability they were carried out in a simplified form by the city’s building master. The works started in the mid-1850s. Thirteen years later, the church was inaugurated, even though she was unfinished at that moment and would remain so. The tower that had to crown the church on the west side never came.

The style of the church, the so-called ‘Rundbogenstil’, is eclectic with a dominance of Romanesque and Gothic elements. The round arch windows have Romanesque design and Gothic tracery. Groundbreaking in ecclesiastical architecture is the use of cast iron for the main ribs and the three-step arches. The biggest innovation in this is the roof span with two iron polonceauspants, per bay. This roof truss is made up of two under-stressed triangular beams, which are connected by a drawbar. The interior is also predominantly neo-Roman with neo-Gothic decorative elements. The monumental murals, which took more time to paint than the construction of the church itself, give this spectacularly beautiful church an oriental-Byzantine atmosphere.

After having fallen in disuse almost two decades ago, the city has now decided to sell the church to a project developer. Since the whole church and its interior are protected as cultural heritage, the possibilities for another use of the building are rather limited…


PISCINE BEL AIR

PISCINE BEL AIR

Among urban explorers this place is popular for the beautiful swimming pool that has a certain Greek feel to it. I wasn’t able to find out the exact history of the place, but it looks like it was some kind of private club. Next to the pool, the whole basement was set up as a small bar annex disco. The rest of the house, from the ground level up, was firmly locked. We also found a pretty garden, with two overgrown car wrecks in it and a pretty albeit small pond… All in all a lovely visit.


PAPER CUTTER

PAPER CUTTER

This aircraft, rather unknown to the general public, was built in the Hurel-Dubois factories of Meudon. Only 8 copies were built. Thanks to the specific low-speed flight characteristics, the stability and the long range, the device was especially built for the National Geographic Institute. This specific device, equipped with vertical and oblique cameras, was used to map North Africa and the overseas areas. Cartographers and photographers profited fully from the great stability of the aircraft during the flight. The device has been grounded for some time. A group of enthusiasts is committed to restoring the aircraft and making it airworthy again. Only two copies of this aircraft with a particularly long span (46 meters), which was given the nickname “paper cutter”, and whose specific sound is particularly recognizable for Wright Cyclone star engines, are still operational today.


WATTMAN

WATTMAN

This still active tram depot was built in 1915. There is not much left today from the original depot. Over the years it expanded into a modern maintenance depot for all trams and buses in the city. The size of the depot is not only apparent from the surface it occupies. It was also an important player in the development of the power lines. The site has the capacity to produce its own electricity (2400 KW) to strengthen the power supply of the grid. On a sidetrack of the depot are several old, rusty trams, which may still be preserved for spare parts for the trams in the museum that is connected to the site. The old trams rusting away here, were originally not newly built trams, but converted S-trams. The conversion program started in 1978, but was discontinued in 1988 when most of the tram lines around the city were discontinued. Shortly afterwards, these trams were completely removed from passenger service. “Wattman” is a local term for a tram driver.


MOLD HOUSE

MOLD HOUSE

One of the many, many houses in Belgium that has been left behind when the last inhabitants moved into a retirement home or died without heirs. In many cases these houses quickly fall victim to theft, vandalism and sometimes even arson. This particular house has been spared from all that, but not from natural decay. Due to years of water seepage, fungi have been given free rein and by now they are pretty much everywhere. An entirely unhealthy situation, but it makes a nice setting for photography… 


ZECHE M

ZECHE M

The charter for the exploitation of this coal mine in the German Ruhr area was awarded in the beginning of the 1860s, but it would take another 40 years before test drilling would be carried out for the first time in this eastern part of the almost 40 square mile mining area. From 1912 the actual reclamation of Zeche M began, where anthracite was mined. It was mined at depths ranging between 1150 and 2800 feet. During the peak years, 2.5 million tons of anthracite were annually won by more than 8,000 employees. Exactly 100 years after the start of the mining the mine was shut down. A large part of the buildings has now been demolished. It is not entirely clear whether everything will be demolished in the long run, or that this building with the monumental entrance hall and the halls with the typical hanging baskets will be preserved… During our visit the building was still heated.


CONVENT SM

CONVENT SM

On my first visit to this former neuro-psychiatric clinic, only one pavilion was accessible. This is the neo-traditional main building and the neo-Gothic chapel. Both were recently vacated. The main building, built of red brick, originally comprised the administration and the convent of the sisters and included several wings. The chapel of the institution is located in the axis of the main entrance. Both the monastery and the chapel were almost completely emptied, probably in light of the upcoming renovation of the whole. In the chapel you can still find the original confessional and behind the chapel the autopsy table is left in the mortuary. That’s pretty much it as far as furniture is concerned… Nevertheless, it was all in all a nice visit, which yielded some nice pictures, despite the emptiness. 

CLICK HERE to check out the article of my visit to the Sainte Cecile pavilion of this institution, which I visited about a year ago… 


BIOFUEL FARM

BIOFUEL FARM

Even though most of the cars surrounding this old farmhouse are in a deplorable state, this is not really an abandoned location. The property belongs to a garage keeper, who uses this house and the surrounding grounds to stall spare parts. The two love bugs in the front yard look like they only need minimal work. The Chevy Impala in the shed even looks like it’s ready to drive off as it is… The tree-eating truck is a strong contrast. It doesn’t look like it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon… 


CEMETERY OF THE SKULL

CEMETERY OF THE SKULL

By the end of the 18th century, public authorities were obligated to build cemeteries outside their city walls. The council of this particular bought a plot of land from a nearby abbey. In 1787 the first funeral took place here. From the start the cemetery is given a geometric layout with main floats and cross roads. The site is accessible on the west side via a gatehouse with the house of the chaplain and the grave maker. Here the central corridor starts with the calvary cross at the end (photo 4). The graves are in a strict order with the highest class around the Calvary. Over the years, the cemetery had to expand several times until it reached its current area of ​​nearly 30 acres after the First World War. In addition to the parts reserved for war victims, large parts are reserved for the various religious orders and even a plot for the ‘infidels’. There is also a beautiful neo-Gothic chapel with crypt for the canons and bishops, and a ‘lapidarium’ has been installed on the initiative of a commission for the protection of funerary heritage, where valuable funerary monuments are preserved.


CASTELLO DEL ARTE

CASTELLO DEL ARTE

This chateau was originally built in the second half of the 15th century as a fortified castle, but was modified several times in the course of history, most recently in the beginning of the 19th century. Because of the many successive renovations, the chateau lost a lot of its architectural value. The former “corps de logis”, a free-standing castle tower, has since disappeared. The drawbridge was replaced by a graceful bridge with three arches that opens onto a gate building in neo-Gothic style, dating from the mid-18th century. Nevertheless, the chateau was protected as a monument in the early 1990s. For a long time the domain was property of a noble family, but they live in another, bigger chateau. The property was leased for a period of 30 years to a famous artist, who not only restored and refurbished the buildings, but also realized a number of art projects. After his departure, the domain was put up for sale by the owners. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get in… Yet… So for now only these outside shots. 


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