In the area around Mons, slag heaps rise up in the middle of fields and mining villages are dotted around the countryside... Welcome to the Borinage, a land where history continues to be written and reinvented.
A region worth exploring
Man has lived here in and alongside nature since the dawn of time. Early on in Prehistory, they mined the ground, filled with flint and then with coal. In 1830, the 1,200 mineshafts made the Borinage the cradle of European coalmining. Small or big, round or conical, in the middle of fields or behind the gardens of mining villages, slag heaps have been replanted with trees to prevent subsidence. Some have become amazing nature reserves, creating the perfect landscape to explore, revealing amazing ecosystems. On foot, by bike, with a guide along a RAVeL network, the Borinage boasts a landscape studded with ups and downs in a region that is supposed to be flat... On your way, you may well come across a former mining site or a mining village. Our industrial heritage is still striking today.
Exceptional sites undergoing a transformation
The Grand-Hornu, where history and architecture combine right in the heart in the middle of the city, has a surprising new destiny. This former mining complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has become a Mecca for international exhibitions of contemporary art and design. In Frameries, a coalmine has been transformed by Jean Nouvel into a scientific adventure park! You thought mines were grey and boring? We can prove you wrong! Today, the PASS takes young and old alike on a journey through science, exploring materials, physics and technology, without forgetting the soul and the history of the site. In the middle of a park spread over 28 hectares and at the foot of a slag heap, traces of the coalmining industry help us understand the last few centuries in a fun, entertaining way. Observation points can be found around the site to explore different facets of nature. We can learn one thing from this history: the spirit soars in some unusual places.