6 historical swimming pools in Brussels

Bains de Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, (c) A.de Ville de Goyet © urban.brussels

Feel like swimming in a beautiful and historical setting? We dug into the history of Brussels' public swimming pools and found six that are part of Brussels' heritage. Ready for a dip?

The Bains du Centre (Inner City Pools), formerly Bains de Bruxelles-Ville

Want to enjoy a swim with a panoramic view of Chapel Church? Well, you can on the top floor of the Bains du Centre. Given the small surface area and irregular shape of the site, architect Maurice Van Nieuwenhuyse had no choice but to place the two swimming pools on top of each other. Thanks to the bay windows and gigantic glass panes on the roof, the swimming pools are bathed in natural light. It’s a fine example of architecture that has retained its original Art Deco elements.

Bains de Saint-Josse-ten-Noode

Saint-Josse-ten-Noode swimming pool is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful in Brussels. This stunning public Art Deco building, built in 1930 and a listed monument, was carefully restored over a period of ten years. The result is staggering. The large facade, the monumental entrance hall and the rows of changing rooms around the swimming pool and on the first floor have all been preserved.

Piscine Communal Victor Boin

Saint-Gilles’ Victor Boin swimming pool is over a hundred years old. To this day, you can still steam in style in the original Turkish baths, change in one of the changing cubicles on the galleries and bathe in a beautiful Art Deco setting. The inter-war glass roof that could be completely opened on nice days was replaced by a metal construction in 1980. With this, Saint-Gilles lost its seasonal open-air swimming pool. Today, there are 185m² of solar panels on the roof that heat the whole establishment.

Neptunium (closed)

Fans of modernist architecture should head to Schaerbeek. The commune's Neptunium swimming pool, inaugurated in the late 1950s, is a marvellous example of the Art Deco “ocean liner” style. Thanks to its bow-shaped elements, portholes and railings in the central swimming hall, you can easily imagine yourself onboard a ship. The swimming pool is currently undergoing extensive renovation and will reopen its doors in 2022.

The Piscine d’Ixelles (closed)

Built in 1904, Ixelles’ pool is the oldest in the Brussels-Capital Region. The cast-iron capitals and metal trusses of the Piscine d’Ixelles are the last vestiges of the typical structure that defined the first indoor pools. Did you know that the dual-entrance changing rooms were a brand-new innovation when the Piscine d’Ixelles pool first opened? In the interests of hygiene, swimmers had to follow a specific route and take a shower. This practice still applies in all swimming pools to this day. For those itching to dive into this piece of architectural heritage, it's just a matter of being patient. The pool has been closed since September 2019 for major renovation works.

Villa Empain

This majestic Art Deco residence is one of Brussels' must-sees. The stately outdoor swimming pool takes up almost the whole of the Villa’s backyard. Swiss architect Michel Polak left nothing to chance. The villa’s austere lines are reflected in the water, enhanced by blue mosaic tiles and bordered by a pergola-covered terrace. The pool was one of the most modern of its time and looks like something from The Great Gatsby. Please be advised that swimming is not permitted, but there’s no limit to the number of selfies you can take.