The psychiatric hospital of Salve Matar is situated in the Lovenjoel Great Park in the valley of the Molenbeek not far from Brussels in Belgium. The park was part of the lands of the de Spoelberch family who used to live in a castle in the park. Two members of the family, John Spoelberch (1766-1838), and Maximilian de Spoelberch (1802-1873), had a great interest in exotic plants and they planted several rare species of oak, beech, linden, ash, maple, zelkova and a magnolia grandiflora. The park once had a magnificent wrought iron gate which closed off the main drive up to the castle but it was stolen and never recovered.

The opening of Salve Mater in 1927...

In 1915 the 86 1/2 acre 'Great Park' in Lovenjoel was given to the Catholic University of Leuven by the Spoelberch family. The Sisters of Charity of Ghent built an institution within the park which was initially to be solely for the care of mentally ill women though it would later be expanded and care for children and elderly patients too. The hospital would also become a psychiatric teaching facility.

Designed by the architect Joseph Hachez, the first two buildings on site - administration and the Sancta Maria ward pavilion - were opened on June 29th., 1927 and inaugurated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King Albert. Attending the ceremony were numerous dignitaries from the Catholic Church and University, together with various politicians etc.  The Mother Superior of the Sisters of Charity, Sister Mathilde, organized the reception and Professor D'Hollander, the chief physician, gave a speech about the new forms of 'care and cure of lunatics' which were to be applied at the hospital.

Salve Mater has been run for several years by the Catholic University Clinic of St. Kamillus. Progressive closure of the various ward pavilions on the site over time means that now the only psychiatric patients left at Salve Matar are resident in the pavilion of St. Paul. The other pavilions stand empty or have been rented out to various businesses including a children's nursery.


Below is a selection of the photographs we took in and around Salve Matar Psychiatric Hospital in July 2012.

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The various buildings at Salve Matar all have religious names. This is the ward pavilion of Saint Cecile.

The construction was all in orange brick with yellow brick embellishment.
Inside Saint Cecile we see evidence for the care of geriatric patients on this ward pavilion.
A Zimmer GTi model...
The church influence is very obvious.
The rooms in Saint Cecile are in quite good condition.
Furniture has been randomly placed in this common room, not by the owners but in all likelihood by the junkies who appear to use the building.
The entire pavilion is littered with hypodermic syringes complete with needles.


Self portrait time!


One of the many bathrooms on the ground floor...

...and here's another.


A right motley collection including Castor Oil, Ether, Motillum (a so called dopamine antagonist used to prevent vomiting) and a bottle of something unknown!

More evidence of a junkie infestation.


The last occupant left his slippers by the bed!


Perhaps not as odd as might at first be imagined. We have seen cuddly toys in many homes for the elderly.
Stair porn R.C. mental hospital style!
A view across the front of the building.
We call this the 'Blue Room' because the floor is covered in a bright blue dust.

Up in the attic now.


A set of scales in storage.


Shoe shine kit.
Devout Catholic iconography.
Beneath the rafters at the front, middle of the building!
And you can clearly see where we had just been on this exterior view.
A huge occupied pavilion is situated only a short distance away from us  across the grounds.
Moving on from Saint Cecile pavilion now to 'Akcent' pavilion, which appeared to be the care of children.
This translates literally as 'kinetics' though the meaning is not immediately obvious to us.
It is not artificially lit but glows this lovely shade of blue with the natural light from down the corridor in front of the sign!
There is a lot of lovely stained glass everywhere you look in Salve Matar.
Left behind after the last time it was used.
An abandoned word processor in an office.
The first real evidence for child care in this pavilion.
...and a little more...
...and a big kid playing with the toys!
High back!
Almost but not just quite art deco.

As you approach the upper floor of this pavilion it is clear it has not faired quite so well as next door in wet weather.

Presumably these touching wooden crosses commemorate children who passed away at Salve Matar?

Stair porn again!


This fully functional push bike has just been abandoned at the bottom of the stairs!

Looking across from one wing of Akcent to the other.

I wonder if Gene Kelly was here?
An abandoned linen trolley.
The rain that day was quite heavy.
This room mirrors another identical one on the other wing and we wondered if they were staff quarters for nurses living in?

This area is full of interesting bits and pieces left behind.


A set of colourful bible story books aimed at young children.


We call this the 'Throne Room'...


The colourful curtains and strong sunlight create a lovely effect in this south facing room.

Looking along the front of the pavilion.

More stained glass loveliness.


Wandering into this room unprepared gives you quite a shock! The actions of gothic obsessed youths me thinks!

The moulded back presents an enigma. Was this chair for a severely disabled child?

And now a contradiction... this pavilion appears to be for children... what's with the walking stick?
The whole site is littered with interesting stuff like this!
I wonder how it goes?
Another common room.
Moving on now towards the chapel.
Ahead of us is a small building intimately attached to the chapel.
The door was wide open so we advanced with curiosity.
Ahhh! It's the morgue!
Yuck! Time to leave after a very interesting morning! To return to our urbex site head page

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