A summer getaway in Mons

Mons, the European capital of culture for 2015, was never on my travel list until this summer when I realized that I should see more of Belgium and not only the most common cities: Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp. Why am I remembering summer now you may ask?! Maybe just look out from your windows and you will get the answer. It’s the tea time of the year! Rainy and grey Brussels is the scenery for the next 6-8 months…But let’s not get too pessimistic, if you don’t like tea you can always have Netflix!

Let’s get back to Mons.  As an expat who lives and works in Brussels, seeing something outside of the European bubble is not only recommendable but actually a necessary escape from the daily routine. I didn’t have any expectations about Mons, didn’t even really read about it. I am one of these creatures that loves to get lost in a new place and get surprised.
Then it comes the best part: read to discover more about all the places that got my attention.
Mons is a city that grabbed my attention from the moment I arrived. It is small, neat, colorful and very calm city. A truly wonderful place for a weekend gateway. I noticed that there is a lot of graffiti,

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and small winding streets, which in winter are probably quite sinister. 🙂

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Mons is a city with nearly 100,000 residents and its name derives from the Latin word for mountain because of the fort, built in Roman times (yeah I did my research afterwards). In 2015, Mons opened five new museums, including a memorial museum, which tells the story of the fighting in the area during the two world wars. From January 25 to April 7 at the Museum of Fine Arts there was a Vincent van Gogh exhibition. Near the city is the place where he lived. This place is open for visits but unfortunately I could not see the house, but second times in life exist.

I started the walk from the main square, which is a huge space with lots of cafes and restaurants. The good weather allowed us to lunch outdoors. One of the most striking buildings is the municipality (L’Hôtel de Ville), which is in Gothic style and dates in this form since XV century.

Behind the municipality are the Gardens of the Mayor (Le Jardin du Maïeur), and to reach them I passed this tunnel

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that leaded me to the beautiful gardens.

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12-IMG_4645Perhaps the most interesting part of my trip was the moment that I got lost and I saw some tourists coming into a small gate. Just after exiting the gardens to a wider urban street you can see a door in front of which rises queues of tourists. I decided to follow them and I found myself in a tunnel that led me down some narrow stairs to the Belfry (Le Beffroi).

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The Belfry was built in the XVII century and is the only Baroque style building in Belgium, which reaches a height of 87 meters. At the top are 49 bells. The music that emanated from them is magical. You can also enter and see them. I waited in a long queue under the hot midday sun at 31 degrees, but it was worth it! Inside there is an elevator that brings you to the clock mechanism and bells. The building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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I was surprised by the impressionistic portrait of the city made by Atelier Pica Pica, which is a mosaic of tiles in white and black.

11-IMG_4643The walk continued in the streets around the La collégiale Sainte-Waudru cathedral, which together with the Belfry (Le Beffroi) are the two most emblematic buildings of Mons. The Cathedral is magnificent and I had enough luck to see it lit by sunlight, which created a magical atmosphere.

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Walking around Mons….

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The official website of Mons is:

http://www.mons2015.eu/en

One thought on “A summer getaway in Mons

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