Brussels courthouse to get makeover after 40 years in scaffolding

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Clad in scaffolding for some 40 years, Brussels’ Palace of Justice will finally undergo 100 million euros ($115.88 million) worth of renovations over the next 12 years, restoring one of the Belgian capital’s most iconic sites.

The palatial building in neoclassical style, featuring towering statues of Roman writer Cicero and a 104 meter (340 ft) high dome, was completed in 1883, an emblem of the country’s rising ambitions on the international stage.

Today, the building’s state of disrepair has become the butt of jokes in the city, as the scaffolding around it prevents stones from falling on people below.

The 26,000 square meters building, which was rebuilt after being burned down by the Nazis in 1944, will have its electric and heating systems upgraded, while its walls and paving will be restored. The main entrance will also receive a new security system.

The neoclassical building will remain functional during the works, with the courthouse expected to be free of its metal bars by 2022.

“Renovations take a lot of time. It is a big building,” said Johan Vanderborght, spokesperson of the federal department responsible for the renovations.

He attributed the 2030 completion date to the courthouse’s protected status. Before starting the works, the department will have to submit its plans to the Brussels’ monument commission for approval.

($1 = 0.8630 euros)

Reporting by Julia Echikson; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Patrick Johnston