Le Manège, Verviers
The very beautiful facade in the Rue du Manège in Verviers, Belgium is the only visible part of a large building at the back which, until a fire partially destroyed it in 1931, served as a circus, riding hall, music -hall, cinema and theater!
Originally conceived for a private riding company, the Grand Manège received, from its inauguration in 1892, circuses passing through Verviers. The company that owned it met regularly to practice horse riding and training.
The Moorish building is the work of the prolific architect Charles Thirion (1838-1920). Arab architecture often inspired the racetracks, rides and other circuses built at that time. The street facade is 50 meters long and consists of a yellow and red brick cladding whose reliefs form rhombuses, saw teeth and embroidery patterns. The facade with entrances, halls, cafe and apartments form the first part of the building. The second, hexagonal, is at the back and was composed of the track, the stage and balconies for the public.
Threatened with demolition in the early 2000s, the building is protected by a classification measure proposed by the Walloon Heritage Institute before being brilliantly restored. It was then reassigned in apartment building and shops. The old rehearsal ring is now in use as a parking for the owners of the apartments. The ramps where once horses walked down to their stables still exist as do the old drinking troughs on the former stable walls below what used to be the circus ring / theater auditorium.
Classification as a monument since March 28, 2003.
Rue du Manège