By Josh Saunders
Final glimpses of the 19th century beautiful Belgium courthouse that has laid abandoned for 12 years and is soon to be renovated.
Once a thriving part of Antwerp’s legal system, Gerechtshof Britselei the old court of justice remains in a near perfect state within its grand shell.
Erected by 1874, the building was designed by Architect Lode Baecklemans who took inspiration from the Louvre in Paris.
Although he died before it’s construction, succeeding the task to his older brother, the monumental landmark despite its paint chipped walls still exudes a regal charm.
The expansive foyer boasts impressive half-ellipses ceiling arches that align to form an stunning sunset with off-white pillars adding to its majesty.
A main court room, with a raised viewing balcony is clad in rouge carpeting and walls displaying the history and foundation of the law within the port city.
In the centre of the room, illuminated by strong white light from three panelled windows, sits an old wooden chair enclosed by wooden stalls, where judgements would have been made is days gone by.
The city’s old coat of arms is frequently found throughout the building, depicting a large ivory castle with two hands above.
Descending from the words: ‘hand’ and ‘to throw’, the name Antwerp refers to an old Belgium folklore.
In the story hero Slivius Brabo slays Antigoon the giant, who was charging boatmen a toll to pass him, by cutting off his hand and throwing it into the Scheldt river.
Urban Explorer Bob Thissen, 33, visited the site last year for his YouTube channel Exploring the Unbeaten Path.
The site officially closed in 2006 but it undergoing a 52.5m Euro redevelopment, it’s hoped to be complete ready for the Court of Appeal and Labor Court to be relocated there by 2021.
Bob, from Heerlen, The Netherlands, said: “The best parts are the monumental ‘assisenzaal’ and the entrance hall, they are still in good shape.
“Some other smaller courts are more decayed.
“It’s in remarkably good shape, despite it abandoned since 2006, probably due to the roof being repaired in 2012.
“It’s amazing how they constructed those buildings in the 19th century.
“They were all prestige projects and built to last.
“Now everything is based on the functionality and budget.
“The building is alarmed now to prevent people from going inside.
“It closed because they moved to a new building. The outside is already renovated and the interior will be renovated too. It will be in use again as a court.
“I can’t imagine why they moved to another, uglier, building in the first place, but I am happy that it will be in use again soon.”
For more information visit: www.bobthissen.com.