€10 million to restore monuments in Ostend


The Flemish government has approved a project to restore the Thermae Palace hotel and the Royal Galleries in Ostend

Shadows of former glory

The Flemish government has approved a large-scale project to restore two iconic monuments at the Flemish coast: the Thermae Palace hotel and the Royal Galleries in Ostend. The project, proposed by minister-president Geert Bourgeois and tourism minister Ben Weyts, will be backed with €10 million from the government.

The Royal Galleries (pictured) are a neoclassical arcade that extends from the royal villa to the Wellington Hippodrome horse racing track. Stretching more than 380m, they were built to allow Leopold II and his guests to go to the track without being exposed to the rain.

The Belle Epoque hotel Thermae Palace sits in the central section of the arcade, halfway between the two pavilions, and to the west of the Ostend port, overlooking the beach.

“The Thermae Palace and the Royal Galleries were common on postcards from the Flemish coast,” Bourgeois said. “Today they are shadows of their former glory, and a total restoration is urgently needed. I'm delighted we're going to give this magnificent complex a new lease of life.”

The restoration project aims to undo much of the damage sand and salty air have caused over the years. Roofs will be repaired, the concrete skeleton will be checked for stability and if necessary restored, and carpentry and plasterwork on facades will be renovated. The project is led by the heritage department and the maritime and coastal agency.

In addition, the Flemish government and the city of Ostend will now launch a tender a restaurant which forms part of the complex. The whole project is to be complete by 2022.

Photo courtesy Toerisme Oostende