Mons is one of those cities that exist, but they are not part of the typical tourist itineraries and only few people get to visit them. However, it is a city with a lot of personality and there are many cultural activities and traditional festivities in the city during the whole year. Mons is a city that surprises you.
This city of only 100,000 inhabitants, situated in the Belgian region of Wallonia, was appointed to be the European Capital of Culture in 2015.
The opening ceremony of the year Mons2015, whose motto will be “technology meets culture”, was absolutely stunning. The main theme were the lights and we all stood there amazed.
During the whole year, this town will be in the center of Europe’s attention, and we can really recommend you to visit Mons during this year full of interesting events.
In a small town like Mons, you don’t expect to find so many interesting things.
Mons, considered as the “Silicon Valley” of Belgium is a vibrant city, which seems to have an antique appearance, but has a young and very modern character.
When you arrive for the first time in the main square, the Grand Place of Mons, and you see its solemnity with the beautiful building of the Town Hall presiding the view, you will immediately feel that you are in a fairly unknown gem of Europe, and this town doesn’t have to envy anything from other more known European cities.
In Mons there are many nice and historically important buildings to see, but what we liked the most was walking around the narrow cobbled streets, where street art is in a nice harmony with the well conserved old buildings. We tell you a secret; the buildings that were built mainly of stone were properties of the rich, whereas those built with bricks are buildings of the lower classes. Hence, walking on the streets, you can try to guess what kind of people actually lived in those houses, and you can imagine better how life was in those times.
You can’t visit Mons without dedicating some time to the “Beffroi”, the symbol of the town, the only baroque bell tower of Belgium. It’s 87 meter tall and during the summer months, you can climb to the top to enjoy the view of Mons. Victor Hugo defined it as “ugly, but impressive” and he compared it to “4 teapots” and a “coffee pot on top of them”. Around the bell tower, there’s a nice park behind the walls, when on a sunny day (not very common in Belgium), you can enjoy reading a book in tranquility.
Another gem of the city is the Sainte Waidru Collegiate Church, which looks more like a cathedral because of its impressive structure. However, it is not, since it has never been the post of a bishop. The church was built thanks to the goodwill of 30 women from different aristocratic families around Europe, and the stained glass windows are absolutely amazing!
Amongst the many cultural events organized during the year, what captured our attention the most is the Van Gogh Exhibition in the Fine Arts Museum of Mons. This temporary exposition contains 70 paintings from the time when the Dutch painter lived in the mining industrial zone called Borinage, just outside Mons. Apart from watching the beautiful paintings, one can actually become part of Van Gogh’s famous painting “The bedroom”.
Mons is also a town with loads of restaurants, bars and shops. Can you guess what our favorite food was there? Yeah, the waffles there are incredible!
These are only some of the things that can make you want to visit Mons. It’s also quite easy to get there, from Brussels Airport the train takes you to this wonderful city in 40 minutes. Next time you visit Belgium, Mons should be an obligatory stop there!
The tourist office of Bruselas Valonia can give you additional information on the city.
Useful tools to organize your trip
– ZZZ… BOOK YOUR HOTEL IN MONS – find the best hotel for you.
– GET 25€ CREDIT WITH AIRBNB – find your perfect host.
– FLYYY… Find the CHEAPEST FLIGHT TO BELGIUM.
– BRUM BRUM… RENT A CHEAP CAR FOR YOUR TRIP TO MONS – find the best car for you.