Mons is the capital of Hainaut province in Belgium’s Walloon Region. It’s origins dates back to the 7th century when Saint Ghislain and two of his disciples built a chapel dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, on the hills where the Sainte Waudru church now stands.
In 2015 it was named European Capital of Culture, and the city has since been revamped. With its location between Brussels and Paris, it’s an often overlooked town. If your into history and beautiful architecture, then make the city of Mons a stop on a visit to Belgium.
There are a few places worth visiting in Mons. In the city center is the Grand Place, a large cobblestone square dotted with cafes, shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to people watch and let the kiddos run free as they play along the square and the beautiful fountain.
While your here, sample some Belgian cuisine, especially the steak sizzling on a hot rock at La Cervoise, located in the Grand Place. It was quite the dining experience and the food was delicious.
This is also a great place to sample some of Belgium’s UNESCO listed Belgian beers. Order a cold one and sit back and relax on one of the squares outdoor patios and just admire the beauty surrounding you!
HOTEL DE VILLE (TOWN HALL)
The surrounding buildings are absolutely beautiful, with a mixture of architectural styles, notably the centuries-old Town Hall. Built between 1458 and 1477, the Gothic style Hotel de Ville is one of the main attractions in the city.
In the courtyard of the Town Hall, there is a passage that leads to a beautiful garden that is open to the public and is worth a look. To the left of the entrance, you will notice a small bronze statue of a monkey.
The guardhouse monkey supposedly will provide good luck and possibly even grant wishes if you rub it’s head. With many people rubbing it’s head, it now has a sheen. Who wouldn’t rub its head if it will bring good luck!
THE MONS BELFRY
Nearby is the 17th-century baroque belfry where you can get the most amazing city views. Located at the Parc Château on a hill, this UNESCO listed belfry is the only one in Belgium that is constructed in the baroque style. Towering at 87 meters high, it dominates the city of Mons and can be seen from far away.
The Belfry park is also home to the Saint-Calixte chapel. Dating back to the eleventh century, this old religious building was part of a chapel of the castle of the Counts of Hainaut. It is the oldest religious monument of the city, and now houses a small museum and is free to enter.
SAINT WAUDRU CHURCH
Visit the 15th century Saint Waudru Collegiate Church. It’s edifice is a perfect example of Brabant Gothic architecture. Named in honour of Saint Waltrude of Mons.
This old church is a protected monument and one of beauty. The stained glass is something to marvel! It was given to the church by the Emperor Maximilian of Austria in early 16th century and they are just spectacular.
One other highlight of the church is the Golden Coach. The Golden Coach is the crowning glory of the city. This coach has its day of glory on Trinity Sunday.
The reliquary contains the relics of the patron Saint Waudru, which comes out in procession in the streets of the city. It was truly remarkable! This church was absolutely beautiful, sit in the pews and just admire the architecture and the stained glass.
EGLISE-SAINT NICOLAS CHURCH
Another church worth highlighting here is the 12th century Eglise-Saint Nicolas. Ornately decorated in the Baroque style, it is one of the most beautiful churches we’ve seen here.
The chapel is dedicated to Saint Nicolas, patron saint of merchants, and it is definitely a must see. The choir and the altar are worth a look, they are absolutely beautiful!
THE “PASSENGER” WOODEN SCULPTURE
Stroll through the streets of Mons and you will come across the most impressive work of art, the magnificent wooden structure located in rue de Nimy.
Called The Passenger, it hovers above a busy shopping street, and it’s one of the most spectacular sprawling artwork we’ve ever seen. It’s definitely a must see here in Mons.
MAISON VAN GOGH
A short drive away from Mons is the Maison Van Gogh (or Van Gogh House). Located in Cuesmes, near Mons, Vincent Van Gogh lived here from 1879 to 1880, and is now a museum. It was during his time in Borinage, a coal mining town, that he decided to become an artist.
Inspired by the lives of the miners, he started to produce drawings. The location and the surrounding countryside where he stayed was inspiration for his paintings, which was mostly rural and a working-class life. If you happen to visit Mons and your a fan of Van Gogh’s work, then this museum is a must see.
THE CHÂTEAU D’HAVRÉ
The Château d’Havré is a beautiful historic castle located on the outskirts of Mons. In 1579, a fire destroyed the castle and left it in ruins. In the 17th century, the castle was restored by the Duke of Croy, and became one of the most magnificent castles in Belgium. It was frequented by many royals and famous artists during its hayday.
Despite all this, the castle was gradually abandoned and neglected and has been left in ruins. Today, you can still visit the ruins and it’s flower gardens. It’s a lovely park with its moat still intact, and a playground for the little kiddos.
Mons is not a well known city that’s on anyone’s bucket list, but it’s worth a visit. Experience the cities old world charm, cultural sites and beautiful architecture. If your ever in Belgium, or passing through, make sure to stop by and get to know this city.