Here's a visit that won't leave you cold! And in keeping with the spirit of originality, you're free to explore this famous 19th-century coal mine with an audio guide. For only €2, it's the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a stroll like none other!

A guide for the less visionary

The problem with audio guides is that they're often more cumbersome than anything else. Here, you won't be disappointed! Light, easy-to-use equipment, high-quality sound, and above all, a captivating account, which, from the first few notes, will take you back two centuries, into everyday life at the time. But who is this well-spoken man speaking to us through the headphones? It's none other than the interpreter of Henri De Gorge, the creator of the place.  He will explain Henri’s project, how he imagined his "ideal city" etc. Alongside this, you'll be the lucky audience for titillating stories about life and the development of the Grand-Hornu, which was not without plot twists.

At the centre of the courtyard, you'll find yourself face-to-face with the statue of a man... As you'll have guessed, it's none other than Henry De Gorge himself, looking proudly at his property. He is now laid to rest with his family in the family crypt in Grand-Hornu.

A working city where well-being was king

Keen to provide miners and their families with a pleasant living environment, Mr De Gorge began by building some 450 houses around the site. These comprised six rooms, included hot water and a garden, and were rented on a weekly basis, for the equivalent of one day's salary! A good bargain for the residents! So much so that a miner's wife would be sure to whisper to you that she had never imagined living in such a palace! A school, library, dispensary, and shops were then added, along with leisure, culture, and relaxation spaces. A real piece of paradise!

Each building had a specific purpose: the "engineers' building" served as the administrative centre for the mine, the square courtyard housed stables and hay barns, the main courtyard was the ultimate crossing point at the centre of the workshop, but also for the machines (De Gorge was one of the first in Belgium to build locomotives). In addition, this fascinating man also invented new extraction techniques.

The coal mine closed its doors in 1954. After initially falling by the wayside, the site became the new property of the Hainaut province in 1989.

An equally futuristic transformation

With such an emblematic figure, it would have been a shame to turn the site into a simple mining museum. This is not the case! True to its founder, the place is also forward-looking. You'll therefore find new buildings, including the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC's) and the Centre for Innovation and Design (CID). Both are the work of the Belgian architect, Pierre Hebbelinck, and target contemporary creations. In addition to visiting the site, you'll therefore also have the opportunity to view a quality international exhibition. A successful conversion for this former coal mine! It should be noted that in 2012, the UNESCO classed Grand-Hornu as a world heritage site. A well-deserved honour!

An eclectic, trendy museum

It's impossible to get bored of this place! You'll discover the collection of works housed within the MAC’s through the exhibitions that punctuate the year. You can therefore visit several times, and admire new works on each occasion. The only permanent features are the three main themes upon which the museum is based: memory, location, and poetry.

You won't fail to be impressed by so much diversity, whether it’s different genres, disciplines, or artists' nationalities. Whether you're a devoted fan of traditional art (painting, sculpture, etc.) or an admirer of modern art (photo, video, multimedia, etc.), you'll be blown away every time! A clever way of breaking down the barriers to open your mind to alternatives.

A museum that raises questions

At the CID, you'll also view different works each month. It's the ideal place to go and meet designers from all over the world, who are occasionally invited to exhibit their creations, the starting point for a reflection on our relationship with objects. Because the main goal of the CID is to question us. Marie Pok, the director, explains that design is a discipline that concerns all of us. Well, yes, whether it's a chair, a lamp, a car, or a pencil, we come into contact with these objects on a daily basis. But what purpose do they really serve? Why this choice of material? Why did the artist use this shape...? So many questions go through our mind when considering these rather futuristic works. Through these innovative exhibitions, the CID also seeks to change our perspective, take us to the unknown and question what we take for granted.

Practical info

  • Site open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
  • Audioguides to discover the site available in FR, NL, GER, ENG, IT and SPA for 2 euros
  • Guided tour also available, subject to reservation
  • Free admission to the site for everyone on the first Sunday of the month, and the first Wednesday of the month for schools


Site du Grand-Hornu
Rue Sainte-Louise, 82
7301 Boussu, Belgium
Reservations : ou +32 (0)65/61.38.81

Accessible with the Mons Card!