An intense history
A military fortress for two decades, Charleroi owes its appearance to the dismantlement of the fortifications. The urban planning policy at the time drew its inspiration from Paris during the Haussmann period.
There’s a short yet intense history that shaped the city, striking a visionary balance between industrial terrains, architectural masterpieces and tourist destinations. It now provides a helpful background for artists. Several tours will guide you according to different themes. Free booklets with maps are available from our reception centres.
An urban tour covering a 350-year period
This tour leads visitors from stopping point to stopping point to discover the city’s past and must-see locations. The route forms a loop passing 21 places signposted by arrows and hexagonal plaques as a reference to the shape of the Charleroi fortress.
Street after street in the city reveals enthralling residences, such as the Maison dorée (Golden House) and the Maison des Médecins (Doctors’ House). In rue Léon Bernus, a row of 35 houses has been granted the status of an ‘architectural complex’.
Delve into the history of the geometrical and stylised architecture of the 1920 to 1940 period. Go on a tour recalling the iconic figures of Marcel Leborgne and Joseph André, with the City Hall featured as the highlight of this inter-war period.
As part of the ‘Asphalte’ project, leading street artists from around the world were invited to create monumental or more discrete frescos on gables and blank walls in the city centre. All of these works are dotted about the city to produce what can only be called an open-air museum.
Cool culture and nightlife
Housed in an industrial glass building constructed for the 1911 industrial and trade exhibition, the BPS22 is a must-see of the city centre. The Hainaut Province Art Museum helps visitors to discover and understand the world of contemporary art. Another extraordinary place to be discovered in Charleroi is certainly Charleroi Danses. Turned towards contemporary creation, Charleroi Danse set up an open project centred on artistic work shared with choreographers and artistes from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation but also from the international scene.
There are some untypical places to have fun in Charleroi. LaM.U, l’Eden or La Brasserie du Quai10 are good places to have a drink before a party. These are trendy and pleasant places where visitors can discover local beers, for example. For having a party, the Rockerill deserves the visitor’s attention. These former forges have been redeveloped into an urban centre focused on popular, social and alternative cultures: rock music, electronic music, visual and digital arts, theatre, cinema, permanent and temporary exhibitions…
Unexpected, offbeat and transformed, Charleroi is conducive to the unusual and alternative culture.
The Photography Museum has long exhibited its works in a convent and on the walls of its park. The former industries are now used as showcases for artists, the empty walls and gables of buildings become huge canvases for street artists, while musicians settle down on top of the slag heaps for a picnic festival. Even the Metro is gaining its share of the unusual, becoming a tourist vehicle, threading its way into the world of the steel industry, a genuine open-air museum of the industrial revolution.
Maison du Tourisme du Pays de Charleroi
Place Charles II, 20 – B 6000 CHARLEROI
This article was in partnership with Maison du Tourisme du Pays de Charleroi
Feature image: ART DECO ©charleroi communication