Hidden Belgium: La Patinoire Royale

Hidden Belgium: La Patinoire Royale

It was the world’s first roller skating rink when La Patinoire Royale opened in Brussels in 1877. The spectacular building with a neoclassical façade on Rue Veydt was designed by the architect Gérard Maréchal. It has a magnificent timber and iron roof that employs a frame system invented by the French engineer Camille Polonceau.

It was turned into a car showroom in the early 20th century by the Belgian racing champion Théodore Pilette. Old photographs show luxury cars lined up inside the building including Bugattis and Packards.


The building was abandoned for many years until the art dealer Valérie Bach spotted its potential in 2007. She restored it as a contemporary art gallery between 2011 and 2015.

Here she exhibits sculptures and paintings in a series of stunning spaces on three levels. The main space is currently occupied by a stunning Op Art installation by the Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. It is a work you can only experience by walking through. It runs until 26 February 2022.

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.

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