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The city of Doudou proudly sits in the center of a stricken region : the Borinage.
The contrast is striking once we cross the old ramparts, on which we built the ring road. No more endless rows of workers' houses, vestiges of the coal industry or misery that one tries to hide awkwardly. In Mons, we find on every street corner beautiful and luxurious mansions and a lot of historical monuments.

Coat of arms of Mons

Coat of arms of Mons

The name of the city comes naturally from its site. By the way, in Dutch, his name is Bergen. This exceptional site will make it the capital of Hainaut for several centuries, resulting in many sieges. The last date of 19141.

Seat of the military command of NATO (the SHAPE, in Maisières), Mons will be European Capital of the Culture in 2015. And for that, it is busy tinkering up its old stones and to give itself an attractive face. As so often, the so-called contemporary art will be grafted without any harmony to the old building of the city.

Outside the city center, we cannot ignore the Grand-Hornu2, the boat lifts of Canal du Centre or the Neolithic mines of flint in Spiennes.
If you want to be drowned in the crowd, the best time is that of the Ducasse which is held every year during the weekend of Trinity.

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Welcome to Mons. Perched on its hill, the city dominates the Borinage.

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From the stairs of the Sainte-Waudru collegiate church, the chapel of the Ursulines (18th century). Its architect, Claude-Joseph de Bettignies has worked a lot in his hometown.

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In its all simplicity, the portal of the collegiate contrasts with the exuberance that the Gothic could show.

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One of the doors of the porch, stamped 1576.

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Fruit of a collaboration between architects from Mons and Leuven, the construction will extend from 1450 to 1691.

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The length of the work will not affect its harmony, the original plans wasn't modified.

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From the tower 187 meters high project, it’s now only this truncated base.

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The completion of the tower will give birth to a local saying that something takes time to come true : "It is the tower of Sainte-Waudru, we will not see the end ! ».

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It remains however one of the most beautiful churches of Belgium.

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One of the many public fountains dotting the center.

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The exterior sobriety is as well inside.

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Sainte-Waudru was fortunate to retain most of his works of art.

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The vaults have the particularity of being made of brick, which gives a beautiful contrast with the stone of the walls.

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The exaltation of Saint John of the Cross, of Joachim de Soignies (1758).

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The Car d'Or, chariot of procession of 1779. It leaves the church every year for the famous Ducasse of Mons.

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It's time to leave Sainte-Waudru.

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The Spanish house (16th century), at the foot of the old Count's castle.

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The belfry dominates the city from its 87 meters height. Ledoux's master piece, it is the only baroque belfry of Belgium.

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Built between 1662 and 1669, it replaces the old clock tower of the castle of the Counts of Hainaut, fallen from old age.

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The Saint-Calixte chapel is the oldest monument of the city (10th century). This is the last vestige of the old fortress.

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The access ramp to the castle square, unfortunately closed. At the base of the ramp, a modernist horror sheltering the tourist office.

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One of the many winding streets of the center.

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The ramp of the collegiate. At the Ducasse, if the Car d'Or doesn't reach the top in one go, a misfortune will befall the city.

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The belfry is seen everywhere. Victor Hugo thought he was frightful, and compared him willingly to a huge coffee pot.

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Rue des Clercs, towards the Grand'Place.

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The Grand'Place, former Place d'Armes.

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Rue de la Chaussée, the main shopping street in the city.

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The building of "Blan Levrie" (1530), admirably restored in 1975. The stone houses have become progressively obligatory to avoid fires.

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City Hall. Unfinished in the 14th century, it should have had one more floor. His architect, Mathieu de Layens, also built the Leuven Town Hall.

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The Renaissance campanile will be built in the 18th century and houses a bell of the 13th century.

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It’s at the foot of the Town Hall that, every year since the 13th century, Saint-Georges kills the dragon. The Ducasse is classified World Heritage by UNESCO.

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The former chapel Saint-Georges, now integrated into the City Hall.

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The pinion of the house of the Golden Fleece, also an integral part of the city hall.

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Near the Grand'Place, the campanile of Saint-Elisabeth church.

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The famous Doudou of Mons, wrought iron statuette originally unknown. Caressing its skull would bring luck.

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The lock of the gate of the Town Hall. It's only a copy, the original being in a safe place, inside.

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Keystone under the portal of the Town Hall.

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The former Saint-Georges chapel.

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Rear facade of the Town Hall.

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The Jardin du Maïeur, a small enclosed space, offers a haven of peace in the middle of the city. It's surrounded by the different buildings of the city hall.

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One of the ends of the Grand'Place, towards Rue de Nimy.

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The Royal Theater, 1843.

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City Hall as a whole.

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The former Crown Hotel.

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Rue des Clercs.

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A modern neighborhood was built inside an urban block, just behind the Grand'Place. This practice is also found in Kortrijk and Mouscron.

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The austere courthouse, rue de Nimy.

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The facade of Saint-Elisabeth church, facing the courthouse.

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The Gothic church of 1588 will be greatly ravaged by a fire in 1714.

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Of the Gothic church, only the aisles remain, the rest being rebuilt in Baroque style.

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The fire was caused by a rocket symbolizing the divine dove during a celebration celebrating the Annunciation. Atmosphere assured !

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The entire building (both outside and inside) is in a pitiful state.

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This church offers a curious mixture of Gothic and Baroque, fruit of the reconstruction after the fire of 1714.

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A Gothic aisle.

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The Baroque central nave.

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The side chapels.

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The organs.

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The condition of the vault above the organs.

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The high altar.

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The alarming (and dangerous) state of woodwork.

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I had inquired of the vicar for a visit of the campanile. I'm still waiting for his answer...

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The façade of Claude-Joseph Bettignies (17th century) is marked by two tenants of arms : the Triton Knight and the Siren.

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The Saint-Nicolas-en-Havré church. If the exterior is somewhat repulsive, the interior is, it seems, grandiose. I will not see anything.

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Only this small window is visible from the street, the facade undergoing a more than welcome renovation.

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Covered alley leading to Roger de Looze square.

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Rue d'Havré leads from the Grand'Place to an old city gate, now occupied by the Place de Flandre.

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On this square, the equestrian statue of Baldwin of Constantinople, unifier of the counties of Hainaut and Flanders in the 13th century.

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The Saint-Nicolas-en-Havré church will suffer the same fate as Saint-Elisabeth : built in Gothic in the 15th century, destroyed by fire in the 17th and rebuilt in Baroque style.

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The seat of the provincial government of Hainaut.

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Back to Saint-Elizabeth. The urban core is quite small, so we quickly went around.

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Anno 1618.

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Vestige of the Gothic building.

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Statue of King Leopold II.

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The central post office, in Gothic-revival style.

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Another public fountain.

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Park Square. In the form of a pentagon, it had formerly a military vocation.

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Chapel of the Convent of the Daughters of Saint-Mary, Park Square. It dates from 1717 and was bombed in 1940. A faithful reconstruction will follow. It's waiting for a new occupation today.

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The adjoining convent will serve, among others, prion, police station and warehouses for state archives.

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Rear of the convent, rue du Rossignol. Beautiful example of the classic style of the 18th century.

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University of Mons, place Waroqué.

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The ring road, on the old fortifications razed in the 19th century.

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In the distance, the spoil tips of the Borinage. Another world, certainly.

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On the Boulevard Charles V, to the train station.

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The station, from the old postal sorting building recently demolished.

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The chapel of the Ursulines, from outside the city. The tour is complete.

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Statue of King Leopold I, opposite the station.

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The station of Mons, rebuilt between 1947 and 1952 and imagined by René Panis. It will soon be replaced by a new horror of Calatrava.

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It's time to go back.

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February 2009

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Notes

  1. The Battle of Mons (August 23, 1914) will give birth to a legend still alive in the Anglo-Saxon world : the Angels of Mons.
  2. Place presented here.