Heart of the cityOn foot, in a horse-drawn carriage, or even on a delivery tricycle: whichever means of transport you choose, Mons is a joy to explore. Not many towns can boast such a rich heritage. Modernity has left the urban landscape untouched to tell its story like an open book. From the Grand-Place, there are plenty of opportunities for an adventure. Behind the huge doors of the town hall hides a curious passageway that leads visitors into the historic heart of the city. At the end of the path, the Jardin du Mayeur epitomises all of Mons’ beauty. Nature blends in with the capital’s oldest buildings: the Mont-de-Piété, which is now the Doudou Museum, or the belfry, standing tall and proud. And while we’re on the subject of the belfry…!
From the Jardin du Mayeur, you can get to the belfry via the narrow pathways through which motor vehicles do not have the luxury of passing... Passage Victor Hugo, Ruelle César... These winding, cobbled alleys lead pedestrians back into the Mons of times gone by. To the highest part of town: the Parc du Château was the stronghold of the counts of Hainaut for many years. It was from here that the sacred monster presided. Right on top of the hill, like a lighthouse, the old belfry has been watching over the city since the 17th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the only baroque belfry in the whole of Belgium. Next to it, the Saint-Calixte Chapel is much older. Built in the 11th century, it is the city’s oldest religious building. If you’re a fan of Roman architecture, take a good look... But perhaps it’s too late and you’ve spotted the beauty of the Saint Waudru Collegiate Church. With 16th century glass, statues and bas-reliefs by Jacques du Broeucq, the relics of the saint, the Salle du Trésor, the Car d'Or… The interior of the Collegiate Church could itself be a museum.
Dozens of museums
And that’s not all there is to see. Mons is a compendium of museums. On Rue Neuve, just next to the Grand-Place, the BAM (Museum of Fine Art) focuses on the 20th century. Boasting 15,000 works of art, it is renowned far beyond Belgium’s borders for the quality of its exhibitions. After Warhol in 2014, Van Gogh and Verlaine are the subject of prestigious exhibitions in 2015. Opposite the Collegiate Church, you can also find the François Duesberg Museum, an amazing museum of decorative arts, with two stars in the Michelin guide! The Mundaneum, the Salle Saint-Georges, the Anciens Abattoirs, the Doudou Museum, the Mons Memorial Museum, the Museum of Natural Science... In fact you’ll need a lot more than two hours to explore everything Mons has to offer.