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Mons is the capital of the Hainault Region of Belgium, and for the British became the scene of their first battles in the war as well as the last. In modern times SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe) has been located not far from the town at Maisieres.

Unlike some of the other towns in Belgium where one name is much the same as the other, the Flemish name for Mons is Bergen (Both meaning: a mountain). Be aware of this if approaching from Flanders.

Mons Hotel de VilleThe central core of the town is not large, and runs in a number of rings. There is a concerted effort to keep vehicles out of the narrow streets, and parking regulations are strictly enforced. You will only get 20 minutes at most of the road side parking bays. Use one of the car parks on the edge of the town and walk.

Besides, the one way system is a bit of a nightmare.

Dominating the Grand Place is the Hotel de Ville which took hundreds of years to complete after funds ran out after its initial construction in 1458. Outside on the front wall is a small figure of a monkey: the Singe du Grand Garde. Stroking his head brings you good luck - honest, the guide books all say so. Inside area quartet of museums, including the Musee de Guerre covering the four battles from the two World Wars. At the gateway are a number of memorial plaques including one to the Canadian 3rd Division who liberated the town on Armistice Day 1918.

Battle of Mons

The Battle for Mons


Mons CafesAround the Grand Place are a number of cafes where you can take in the sights and sounds of market day or look up at the Belfry Tower on the hill behind and to the left of the Hotel de Ville. Two other bars worth considering for good selections of beer are:

L'Alambic, 25 Marche aux Herbes
La Podo, 43 Rue de la Coupe

Both can be found just down from the bottom left hand side of the Grand Place as you view the Hotel de Ville.

The Belfry was built in 1662 on the highest point in the town, somewhere under all the scaffolding that has surrounded it these past years are a collection of onion domes and a 49 piece carillon.

St Waudru CathedralIf you walk up the narrow cobbled streets towards and past the Belfry you will come across the Collegiate Church of St. Waudru. A dark and imposing edifice situated on the hillside. It was built between 1450 and 1686, but never really finished which may account for its rather odd appearance. On Trinity Sunday each year the Chariot of Gold from the church is carried through the streets to the Grand Place, where St. George fights his dragon once more. The chariot itself is an eighteenth century carriage which was built for the relics of St. Waudru. The interior of the church is well worth viewing for its work by local artists.