The Chaussée de Haecht in Brussels looks rather neglected. Nothing to see here, you might decide. But there is an interesting building hidden behind the old coach gate at number 147.
It was constructed in 1826 as a country house in an area outside the city walls that was then dotted with small farms and ponds. The Neo-classical building, grand enough to call a château, was the home of a rich Brussels merchant called Charles-Louis Eenens.
Four years after the house was built, the Belgian Revolution broke out in the heart of Brussels. Fleeing the city, the Dutch prince Frederick sheltered in the château, holding some 20 people hostage in the basement. He didn’t stay long, but drank tea from an elegant cup, now displayed in a glass case.
The château was bought by Schaerbeek municipality in 1947. Its grand rooms are now used for art exhibitions, while the old stable building next to the house has been converted into the restaurant l’Estaminet 1030.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.