Popularity for rock climbing is growing in Brussels and soon enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the sport in a rather unusual venue as the Saint-Antoine church in the Forest neighbourhood will undergo an extraordinary transformation.
Planning permission has now been issued and works are expected to start in October. The new climbing hall (to be called "Maniak Padoue") will be run by a company that already has a successful climbing hall in Nivelles (30km south of Brussels). Various climbing walls installed, the highest of which will be 20 metres.
There will also be a small catering facility, a multi-purpose room for yoga and other classes, a room with fitness equipment, a sauna, and even a children’s party room.
The company stresses the importance of keeping the climbing hall accessible to everyone in the neighbourhood. Local residents will benefit from reduced fares and there will be regular training sessions for those who wish to learn to climb.
While most of the Saint-Antoine church has been closed for some time, the part that retains its religious function will remain open to the Catholic community. Only part of the church has been deconsecrated.
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The Alderman of Urban Planning, Alain Mugabo, is very happy with the news. “We think it is very important that this centre becomes as accessible as possible for the entire municipality.”
The climbing hall is set to opened in early 2023, as final grants will be applied for in the coming months. However, the works must not touch the basic structure of the church, particularly the choir stand.