By Bunmi Adigun @Bunmi_Adigun
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Located in Antwerp, Belgium, the historic site was home to the first stock exchange, which was built in 1531, and was seen as inspiration for other stock exchanges in Europe - including London.
The current building was built in 1872 after the original was destroyed in a fire in 1858. Although the landmark is steeped in history it has been left abandoned since its closure in 1997.
Photographer Ioanna Sakellaraki took it upon herself to explore this once iconic building, giving viewers a chance to look at an important piece of history.
She said: “It is an amazing cultural and historical landmark in Belgium. I always wanted to visit and was very rewarding when I actually did.”
Tucked away in the centre of the city, the former stock exchange was built next to the shopping district of Antwerp.
This prime location helped in its early growth during the 16th century and cemented it as the epicentre for trade and commerce in Europe at the time.
Since its closure the beautifully designed building has fallen into disrepair with its once ornate windows and tiles falling victim to time and neglect.
Despite its outwardly appearance, the former stock exchange building still boasts a massive appeal to architecture lovers due to its arch windows and countless columns.
Ioanna said: “The building is immense and a sort of unique architectural gem. I was astonished of the magnitude of the entire complex and I also got lost in it while wandering making photos and exploring the different floors and rooms.”
The closure of Europe’s first stock exchange came about due to concentrated efforts by the Belgian government to increase financial activities in the nation’s capital city, Brussels.
Since its closure in 1997 there have been numerous attempts to reopen the landmark with special events taking place within the central hall of the neo-gothic styled building.
By 2003 however, these were forced to stop due to the now decaying building becoming a serious safety hazard.
However this year has seen renewed efforts to bring glory back to this once illustrious building with the Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, outlining plans to renovate and bring business to the landmark.
Previous plans to reinvest into the building however have failed in the past.
“In the early 2000s, a property company wanted to convert the exchange into a luxury resort but the financial crisis put an end to that,” Ioanna added.
A treasure trove of historical gems, the building is still revealing secrets from years long gone by.
Ioanna said: “In February this year, archaeologists completed their study of the site, having made some remarkable discoveries in the subsoil, including medieval floors and urns from the Iron Age."