Mons, Belgium, European Capital of Culture 2015

 
 
 

Every year the European Union designates a city for a period of one calendar year to be the European Capital of Culture. This city is set upon the task to organise a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension.

MONS 2015

This year Mons joins ranks with Pilsen in the Czech Republic. This grand celebration involves 300 events from Van Gogh to Verlaine.

Mons is a Belgian city and the capital of the province Hainaut. Mons means ‘mountains’ so it’s no surprise that this romantic little town is set on a hilltop. The center is petite and much of it is pedestrianised. All the roads lead to the magnificent town square, the Grand place. On a hot day the locals assemble there for a cool drink on the terrasses.


 

Grand place

The most striking building is the Belfry. It’s the only baroque style building in Belgium that reaches a height of 87 meters and is classified as UNESCO World Heritage.  Victor Hugo described the Belfry in a letter to his wife as “a coffeepot flanked by four smaller teapots.”

The Sainte-Waudru Collegiate Church is located in the heart of the town. From there you can take a leisurely stroll down the winding little streets or do some shopping because amazingly, Mons is great for shopping!


 

St Waudru

Besides the great historic medieval buildings there’s also ‘Le grand Hornu’, an old industrial mining complex. You would almost forget that Mons was once a mining town and the industrial backbone of Wallonia.

Every year Mons hosts a festival in honour of Saint George. This ceremony, known as ‘Ducasse de Mons’, involves a man representing Saint George who kills the dragon Doudou.


 

doudou

As anywhere in Belgium, you can find some fine restaurants in this town. Mons brings the Belgian cuisine to the table, but the French kitchen is also well represented. In l’Impératif chef Benoît Neusy brings the very best of what the sea and earth have to offer in an elegant and contemporary decor.


 

l' impératif

If you’re looking for a place to sleep, Hotel Saint James is always a good option. It’s situated just outside the citycenter in an 18th century building. Although it’s historic charm the hotel rooms are created for the modern day traveler and offer luxury and convenience.

The opening ceremony on the 24th of January features a giant dancefloor, a sleeping dragon (Doudou) watched over by hundreds illuminated elves, fireworks etc. Illumination is the theme and so the city will be filled with lights.

2015 will be a cultural earthquake for Mons with an explosion of possibilities in the field of arts, theatre, music, liturature and fashion. This cultural explosion will not stop at the borders of Mons! Not only in Intra Muros and in the Borinage, but also in the Centre region, at Charleroi or even at Namur, Brussels, Valenciennes, 17 museums will be opening their doors on the great exhibitions of Mons 2015.

The biggest event is the Van Gogh exhibition in the newly renovated BAM museum. The exhibition takes you through the period where Van Gogh decides to abandon his career as a preacher among the poor mining communities of the Borinage and becomes an artist.


 

Van Gogh

For more information on Mons 2015 go to : http://mons2015.eu/en

For more restaurants, hotels and discoveries in the region go to our guide:  http://www.belvicci.com/index.php/search/belgium/mons-area-hainaut