"Mons, Belgium" Mons by leafmcgowan

Mons Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 5 photos

About Mons

Population [2006] is 91,221 (47.78% male / 52.22% female)
Mons is a city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut and is considered a Walloon city (French). At Spiennes some of the best flint tools in Europe were found dating from the Neolithic period and were the first signs of activity in the region. 1st century BC, Julius Caesar entered the region and settled by the the Nervii the settlement of Castrilocus consisting of a castrum where the name was derived. The name was later changed into Montes for the hills upon which the castrum was built. 7th century - Saint Ghislain and his two disciples built an oratory/chapel dedicated to Saints Peter and paul near the Mons hill. 12th century, Baldwin IV, the Count of Hainaut fortified the city - causing the population to grow fast, trade to flourish, and several commercial buildings, town halls, and churches constructed near the Grand'Place. 13th century saw a population of 4,700; by end of the 15th century grew to 8,900. 1515 Charles V took an oath here as Count of Hainaut. Beginning in 1572 various occupations began - Protestant takeover by Louis of Nassau, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre murder of de Coligny, the Duke of Alba took control in that September for the Catholics. The city was laid to ruin and many of its inhabitants were arrested. 1580-1584 Mons was the capital of the Southern Netherlands. 1691 after a nine-month siege, Louis XIV's army stormed the city making Mons alternately French or Austrian. French control from 1701-1709, the Dutch Army came in after the Battle of Malplaguet and by 1715 Mons was returned to Austria under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. France took it again in 1746 after the Battle of Jemappes in 1792 the Hainaut area was annexed to France. 1814 with the First French Empire's fall, King William I of the Netherlands fortified the city heavily, and by 1830 Belgium gained its independence and the fortifications were dismantled. Most of the fortifications were removed in the 1860s to allow for the creation of large boulevards and urban projects. With the Industrial Revolution, Mons became a center for coal mining. By 1914, Mons was the site of the first battle fought by the British Army in WWI and saw occupation until its liberation by the Canadian Corps during the final days of the war. The city was heavily bombed and many skirmishes took place here in 1944 between the American forces and the retreating German forces. After the war, most of the industries went into decline. Nato's Supreme headquarters Allied Poers Europe (SHAPE) was relocated to Casteau, a small village near Mons as a political decision since the area was depressed. In 2006 a prisoner riot took place in Mons over complaints of living conditions and treatment, causing a investigation into Belgium prisons. Today Mons is known as an important university town and commercial center. <B>Sights</B>: Grand Place (historic town center and stage for the annual mock-battle of Lumeçon), The City Hall (gothic architecture with a statue of a monkey who's head if patted will bring good fortune), Collegiate Church of Saint Waltrude (Gothic architecture), the World Heritage site which is the neighbouring belfry (17th c. only baroque-style belfry in Belgium), the Spanish House (16th c.), The Doudou (week long series of festivities or Ducasse involving much folkore including the Lumeçon fight, where Saint George confronts the dragon). Mons is also well known for its three universities: Faculté polytechnique de Mons or FPMs, Facultés universitaires catholiques de Mons or FUCAM, Université de Mons-Hainaut or UMH, and the Conservatoire Royal de Mons or CRM. [sources para-phrased and synopsis composed from wikipedia sources, Frommer's guidebooks, and Encyclopedia Brittanica]

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:arts, music, culture, French
  • Cons:not friendly to the English even if trying to speak French, city streets can be difficult to travel on
  • In a nutshell:A gothic city with incredible architecture, arts, and culture.
  • Last visit to Mons: Apr 2009
  • Intro Written May 3, 2009
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leafmcgowan

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