Titled the Capital of Culture in 2015 and home to three different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mons in Belgium is a city of tradition and history that welcomes visitors to its beautiful European streets saturated in notable landmarks. It is also an important administrative centre of the country and its own municipality as the capital of the Hainaut Province. Mons prides itself on its creative flare, as a city of art and cultural hub, full of monuments, heritage and attractions like galleries and museums, encapsulating the best of European art culture.
Mons Belfry is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage masterpieces and the only Baroque style bell tower in Belgium, as the other two are the Neolithic Mines in Spiennes, the world’s oldest flint mines and Doudou, the week-long festivities beginning every Trinity Saturday. Notable landmarks include the Grand Palace, an elaborate Gothic building, the 16th Century Spanish House and the Main Square, scattered with cafes where visitors can enjoy classic Belgian delicacies, including chocolate and waffles. Visitors can also explore local history at the many museums, including the Mons Memorial Museum, which remembers the war history of the city, the Beaux-Arts Mons, specialising in temporary exhibitions and the Magasin de Papier, which gives space to local artists. In addition to culture, Mons offers an exciting nightlife, in independent bars with live music and unique atmospheres, and green space in parks like Waux-Hall Park and the Jardin du Mayeur, a hidden haven at the back of the beautiful City Hall.
Visitors driving into Mons can reach it along the N56 road. Regular trains leave from major Belgian cities to Mons central railway station and from Brussels, which is where the nearest airport is located. Within the city, there are shuttle services from the central station to the Grand Palace in the centre but is also easy to explore Mons by foot.
The history of Mons dates back as far as the Neolithic period, as flint tools have been found in the area, and a Belgian tribe was found when Julius Caesar arrived in the 1st Century BC. It grew and became a fortified city, and fell under French rule in the Middle Ages until becoming part of independent Belgium in 1830. Mons was a coal mining city during the Industrial Revolution, it hosted the famous Battle of Mons in WWI, and was also bombed during WWII.