Mons in Belgium is known for its ‘First and the Last‘ reputation attained during World War One. It is the town on the Frontline where the first and last major engagements of World War One took place, where the first and last English soldiers were killed in Europe, their remains buried next to each other in a cemetery on the outskirts of the town. It’s also the place where the first Victoria Crosses for acts of valour were awarded.
Many people will visit to commemorate these major memorials but there is plenty more to see when visitors want to take time out and enjoy the sites of today’s Mons with its colourful pageantry and award of the 2015 title of European Capital of Culture to become ‘the city of wonders’. We take a look at some of the best things to see in Mons Belgium.
Mons Town Hall
The Gothic-style hall, with its massive oak gateway, was built between 1458 and 1477. It dominates the heart of the city, and is home to a series of fascinating reception Chambers, containing a collection of masterpieces of the Mons silversmiths, as well as tapestries dating from the 17th century – a gift to the town from the French King Louis XIV, after the siege of 1691. The Mayor’s garden, located behind the main building, is a beautiful spot containing, the Ropieur fountain, a bronze work representing a young lad from the town.
The 270-foot bell tower, built between 1661 and 1672, is the symbol of Mons and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The only baroque belfry in Belgium, it has a 49-bell carillon, which rings every 15 minutes.
The Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru
This 15th century Gothic-style church contains some splendid 16th century alabaster statues by Jacques Du Broeucq, and its treasury is one of the most beautiful collections of gold and silverware in Belgium, with articles dating from the 12th century.
Decorative Arts Museum François Duesberg
A remarkable collection of clocks with exotic themes from 1795-1815, plus gilded bronzes, porcelain, gold and silverware and unusual rare objects displayed in a neo-classical 19th century building.
Van Gogh’s house
Van Gogh lived for some time in Mons before moving on to Provence, and his house is now home to a permanent exhibition.
The grounds of an ancient abbey have been transformed into a magnificent ornithological park with the largest aviary in Europe, ancient trees, mysterious ruins and an enormous greenhouse.
Pass – the Scientific Adventures Parc
An interactive museum built on the site of a former coal mine that is now dedicated to the adventurous world of science and technology.
An art museum and cultural hub, with entertainment areas and conservation workshops, BAM hosts several exhibitions each year that encourage visitors to discover an artist, an artistic movement or a theme linked to the museum’s collections of more than 15,000 works of art. The BAM has been designed to be a unique experience, a place to discover artistic creation in all its forms, a living place with a full programme of events throughout the year.
By travel writer Amanda Fisher