Between 1810 and 1830, in the village of HORNU, the French industrialist Henri De Gorge set about building the large complex of offices, stables, workshops, foundries and furnaces that comprises Grand-Hornu (wwww.grand-hornu.be). De Gorge owned several collieries in the area, so the complex made economic sense, but he went much further, choosing to build in an elegant version of Neoclassical style and constructing more-than-adequate workers’ houses just outside which survive to this day. This progressiveness did not necessarily win the affection of the workers – in 1830 the miners came within an inch of lynching him during an industrial dispute over wages – but De Gorge’s mines, as well as Grand-Hornu, remained in operation until 1954. Thereafter, the complex fell into disrepair, but it was revived in the 1990s and, with its large elliptical courtyard and ruined workshops, it’s a compelling slice of nineteenth-century industrial history. Furthermore, the old office buildings on one side now hold the Musée des Arts Contemporain (MAC’s; wwww.mac-s.be), which has already established a regional reputation for the quality of its temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. There’s a bookshop and café, and a nice restaurant too, overlooking the large courtyard. To get to Grand-Hornu, take bus #7 or #9 from Mons train station (every 15min) and alight at place Verte, from where it’s a five-minute walk.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Belgium features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
20 fascinating second cities

20 fascinating second cities

Barcelona, Spain It's usually the capital cities that get all the attention, but what about a country's second city? These are twenty of our favourite secon…

02 Oct 2014 • Rebecca Hallett camera_alt Gallery
Map: beer from around the world

Map: beer from around the world

Beer-lovers rejoice: the British Government recently announced that a pint of beer in the UK will be a whole one penny cheaper than before. Not exactly saving a…

31 Mar 2014 • Charles Parkes insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook