Follow in the footsteps of Saint George and the dragon through the symbolic architectural and artistic heritage sites of Mons.The origins of the “Doudou”, as the festivities held in Mons during Trinity weekend are commonly known, date back to the 14th century. Each year the festival, recognised by Unesco in 2005, brings together thousands of increasingly enthusiastic participants in four main events: the descent of the shrine of Sainte Waudru, the centuries-old procession, the uphill climb of the Car d’Or and the battle known as the Lumeçon. The enthusiasm and numbers of spectators who take part and the investment of the hundreds of people who work throughout the year to keep alive the tradition, handed down from generation to generation in the form in particular of the Petit Lumeçon, were recognised by Unesco as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity under the heading “Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France”. In order to secure this recognition for the long term, the Doudou Museum will open in spring 2015, just a stone’s throw from the Grand-Place.
- Difference in height
- 19.79 m
- Points of interest
1 The Belfry
The 87 metre high Mons belfry, recognised by Unesco in 1999, is the only baroque belfry in Belgium. It is built of brick and bluestone and has 49 bells, the oldest of which dates from 1673. The chimes, together with a mechanical drum, set the daily rhythm of life in Mons: if you listen, you will hear a different tune every quarter of an hour. Concerts are also given in the high season and on commemorative or festive occasions, including of course the Ducasse, when the city streets echo to the joyful Doudou tune. Go down from the Gardens by the slope leading up to the Castle. At the foot of the slope, you will see the Youth Hostel on your left. Take the Rue des Clercs, on your right, and head for the Collegiate Church of Saint-Waudru.
For further information, please go to www.beffroi.mons.be .
2 Collégiale Sainte-Waudru
The shrine containing the saint’s relics is displayed throughout the year above the altar in the choir of the Church. In 1250, in order to facilitate access to the relics for the large numbers of the faithful, the head was separate from the body. The head is in the first chapel in the south aisle. The shrouds in which the saint’s relics were previously wrapped are now kept in the Church treasury. Under the organ, a short film presents the descent of the shrine and the procession. The Car d’Or is kept nearby in the north aisle.
Trumpet fanfares, kettle drums and organs resound in the Church marking the start of the solemn ceremony during which the Dean hands over the relics of Sainte Waudru to the Mayor so that they can be taken in procession through the city streets. Traditionally, this procession of the saint’s relics originates from a procession organised in 1349 to ward off the Plague that was afflicting Europe at the time. The current ceremony, an event of pomp and fervour in Mons, was only established in 1962! At the end, the Doudou tune resounds in the Church to cheers and applause from believers and non-believers alike. On leaving the Church, head for the foot of the Rampe Sainte-Waudru and note how steep it is.
For further information, please go to www.waudru.be .
3 Rampe Sainte-Waudru
Retrace your steps to the Rue des Clercs.
4 La Rue des Clercs
Go down the Rue des Clercs and stop on the Grand-Place, opposite the Hôtel de Ville.
5 Grand Place
Since the 1970s, the battle has been played out in precise steps, under the watchful eye of the team responsible for directing it. On the following Sunday, the Petit Lumeçon takes place on the Grand-Place. Thousands of children come together to re-enact the famous battle, in an exceptional event produced by children for children, the origins of which date back to the early 20th century. Through this event and in other ways, children are at the heart of the passing on of tradition recognised by Unesco in the Mons Ducasse ritual.
A number of features on the Grand-Place evoke this confrontation. The internationally renowned artist Gérard Garouste immortalised the pair in a bronze sculpture on the right-hand steps of the Hôtel de Ville. In the centre of the Grand-Place, a stone circle symbolises the battle arena and the municipalities that make up Greater Mons. To the left of the Hôtel de Ville is Saint George’s chapel, where the saint’s relics were kept until the French Revolution. Originally, in homage to the saint, the battle took place in this chapel.
Now cross the Grand-Place and take the Rue de Nimy, on your right, as far as the Church of Sainte Elisabeth.
6 The Church of Sainte Elisabeth
The shrine of Saint George is kept throughout the year (except during the Ducasse) in a chapel near the choir (sixth chapel from the door on the right). Saint George’s three lances are also displayed there.
Retrace your steps and go through to the Hôtel de Ville courtyard. Take the underground passage leading to the Mayor’s Garden. Go past the Ropieur statue and turn right to face the former Mont-de-Piété building.
7 Le Mont-de-Piété
- 20 meters of difference in height
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