When it was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1814-1830), the city was fortified for the last time. From this final, huge enterprise, only the casemates remain (where feed was kept in the 20th century) on the Place Nervienne, as well as the neighbouring army bakery; these mainly brick buildings were used for military purposes until May 1940.
They are now used for a range of sporting and cultural activities.
In 1998, the roof of the former military bakery was converted into a public garden, specifically designed for children.
. History of the building
This military building, made of bricks and blue stone, is in the shape of a pentagon, and is one of the fourteen bastions of the fortifications that formed the outer walls of the City of Mons.
Designed by engineer, Van De Polder, these military barracks needed to resist bombardments. The building’s vaults are 94 centimetres thick. They are made up of twelve vaulted girdles 8.8 metres wide and 5.5 metres tall. They vary in length from 30 to 50 metres. The front of the Casemates, 168 metres long, is made up of 12 huge archways.
The building covers a total of around 8,500m².
The barracks were designed to house 2,000 men in the event of a siege, according to regulations: 16m³ of air per person, one metre across for each bed and at least two metres between two rows of beds for tables and benches and for the men to walk around.
The casemates were never used for this purpose, as the city was never under siege after they were built. Since its construction, the barracks have been used to store food and military equipment; it has housed equipment for the Ministry of Public Works and the Road Museum, and has been home to the Excavation Department for the Walloon Region.
In 1999, the Institute for Walloon Heritage was tasked with restoring the Casemates. The Ministry for Equipment and Transport gave the Institute a budget of €1,725,000 to restore the façades. This work was completed at the end of 2004.
Given the very specific nature of the building (little natural light, humidity and a low temperature), the Casemates are not suitable for just any kind of use.
At the moment, five casemates are used by the Walloon Region’s Archaeology Department, two for exhibitions put on by the Walloon Region and the City of Mons, and five for cultural purposes yet to be defined in collaboration with the City of Mons.
- Spoken languages
- Car park