Zeebrugge's Ghost Hotel Is Belgian Sadness In Microcosm
Among the printable things that make us gasp are unexpected sightings of grand dame hotels. So imagine the excitement yesterday when we were on a tram in non-descript Zeebrugge, Belgium, and caught sight of the corner of what looked like a huge old hotel. We got off at the next stop and ran back to the building.
And this is what we found: the shell of what had obviously once been a belle epoque hotel, but sadly gone to seed and renovated into what looked like apartments, from the for sale signs in a few windows.
A local informed us that it had indeed been a hotel, but that it had closed after the war, and been apartments ever since. And, rootling around online, we established that this started life as the Palace Hotel, Zeebrugge, then was later called the Residence Palace.
According to the garbled Google translation on this page, it seems that the hotel was built in 1914, just after the port of Zeebrugge was founded in 1907, to attract rich German cruise passengers stopping off on their way from Hamburg to America.
As the Flickr photographer says, the Germans did come, 11 days after it opened – but in uniform, with the start of the First World War. During the war, it was occupied by German forces. Presumably, post-war, it returned to its status as a hotel, but in 1949, it was sold due to unprofitability, and the building was converted into apartments and offices. In 1994, it was given protected status as a monument.
A microcosm of Belgian history there. That may even be as sad as the story of the just opened al-Mashtal hotel in Gaza. Anyone for a drink?