Paved entirely with cobblestones and decorated with elegant façades, the Grand-Place in Mons takes you on a journey through time. Spacious, almost ethereal, it is one of the most beautiful squares in Belgium as well as turning out to be one of the most animated.
“Lively” is the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Grand-Place in Mons. Its vibrancy and energy will strike anybody setting foot in Hainaut’s capital for the first time. Lined with terraces, restaurants and cafés, it is the nerve centre of the city. It’s the place to meet for some retail therapy in the nearby shopping area, exploring the most beautiful buildings Mons has to offer, or just to pull up a seat and reflect on life. Comfortably settled on the terrace, you could spend hours here admiring the surrounding façades. Some are colourful, others pale, from Gothic to Neo-Classical or inspired by Spanish influences, its historic façades offer a magnificent architectural panorama from the 15th century to the present day.
A book of architecture
In the centre, on the cobbles themselves, the blue stone ring symbolises the 19 municipalities of Mons. It is also in this arena that the legendary battle between St George and the Dragon takes place every year on Trinity Sunday. Of course, the town hall, or Hôtel de Ville, will attract the attention of architecture fans. This Gothic gem, topped off with a Baroque bell tower, was designed by Mathieu de Layens, who was also the man behind Louvain’s town hall. It was unfinished and only has one storey. However, its stature is hugely impressive. As it rises up, it towers over its neighbouring buildings. And then there is the little monkey in the façade that loves having his head stroked! Is it the work of a blacksmith, the sign for a bar? Anyone who claims to know where it’s from is very clever. Stroke his head with your left hand and you’ll get a year of happiness. Definitely worth a try...
A haven of peace
Behind the town hall, a vaulted passageway leads to the Jardin du Mayeur. Here the hustle and bustle of the city gives way to a rare tranquillity. Time stands still and lets nature talk. In this little haven, copper beeches, lime trees, horse chestnut trees and paulownia stretch their branches, revealing glimpses of some real jewels. You can make out the roofs of the city centre and the belfry sparkles. It’s crazy how this island of peace can take you far far away. In the heart of the garden, the sculpture, Le Ropieur, by Léon Gobert, gently splashes passers by. It symbolises Mons’ inner child and the unfailing cheerfulness of the locals. The perfect starting place for a trip to Mons, the Jardin du Mayeur epitomises all the riches and the different facets of the city.