Once a rich and powerful city, the Belgium city of Charleroi fell from grace when its industries collapsed in Europe, and unfortunately took on the misinformed status as a poor and shady city. But that’s not true today: the city centre is pleasant and filled with easy going happy inhabitants. Not to mention, the city has amazing things to do in the form of the world renowned Photography Museum and the other is the modern dance festival Charleroi Dance. It’s a great budget destination compared to the rest of Belgium, and here’s a list of things you can get up to over here!
1. Aulne Abbey
Aulne Abbey has been through quite the harrowing experience - it’s been around since the year 637 and was founded by Saint Landelinus as a Benedictine monastery. Ousted by secular clerics, hands changed again in 1147 when Cistercian monks took over and it became a Cistercian monastery. But that’s not the end of the story - the abbey was burned down by the French in the 18th-century, destroying its library of 40,000 books and 5,000 manuscripts. Now here it stands, still beautiful and perfect for all your hipster Instagram #ruinshots.
Address: 6534 Thuin
2. River Sambre
Charleroi straddles both banks of the gorgeous River Sambre, and there are some choice views to be had of the body of water. Whether daytime or night, there’s a quiet beauty in how it keeps on running amidst Charleroi’s long and tumultuous history, a reminder of its former glory and how things may change, but some things, are just plain eternally beautiful.
3. BPS22 Art Museum
Housed in an old industrial building made of glass and iron, this is Charleroi’s answer to the Belgium modern art scene. Designed by Gabriel Devereux, there’s a bar, plenty of amazing, thought provoking artworks from some of the most established and up and coming regional artists and always something new to learn or discover here. A must visit for the art fans if you come into Charleroi.
BPS22 Art Museum
Address: Boulevard Solvay 22, Charleroi 6000, Belgium
Website: BPS22 Art Museum
4. Museum of Photography
Like all good hipster museums, the Museum of Photography is housed in a former convent and has a collection of 80,000 photographs. Considered one of the most important photo museums in all of Europe, The Museum of Photography contains both permanent and temporary exhibitions, with around 3 exhibitions every 4 months, ensuring that visitors can return to the museum often and experience something new each time. Not to mention, for the photography buffs coming to visit, there’s an amazing gift shop available along with an extensive library for your perusal.
Museum of Photography
Address: Avenue Paul Pastur 11 | Mont-sur-Marchienne, Charleroi 6032, Belgium
Website: Museum of Photography
5. Church of St Christopher
If you’re in Place Charles II, make a trip down to main square to check out the gloriously beautiful baroque Church of St Christopher. It looks a bit old, but once you step inside you’ll be blown away by the amazing infrastructure. Gaze upon the beautiful mural covering the entire height of the church, showing several biblical scenes on a lustrous gold background.
Church of St Christopher
Address: Place Charles II, Charleroi, Belgium
6. Musee des Beaux Arts de Charleroi
With a vast collection of over 3,000 pieces of art, from paintings, sculptures, installations, prints, drawings, photographs to ceramics, the Musee de Beaux Arts Charleroi highlights some of the absolute best artistic movements that developed in Belgium, from Neo-classicism, Orientalism, Social Realism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, Surrealism to Abstraction, and even showcases new young emerging artists. Take note that the museum is entirely in French, with no English translations, but don’t let that stop you from making your own interpretations of this incredible collection.
Musee des Beaux Arts de Charleroi
Address: Place Charles II, Charleroi 6000, Belgium
Website: Musee des Beaux Arts de Charleroi
7. Musee du Verre
Part historical museum, part craft museum, there’s plenty to admire about this specialist museum that’ll show off various glassware, as part of the mining museum. On sunny days, some of the sculptures and works catch the light just right and you can take some truly incredible photos here.
Musee du Verre
Address: Rue du Cazier, 80 | Bois du Cazier, Charleroi 6001, Belgium
Website: Musee du Verre
8. Le Bois Du Cazier
Le Bois Du Cazier is the site of the old coal mines in Charleroi, and with a guided tour around this historic attraction, visitors can learn all about the tough working conditions of the coal miners in the mid 20th-century and how important it used to be contributing to the economic wealth Charleroi enjoyed in the past. An incredible experience, this is not to be missed when visiting Charleroi.
Le Bois Du Cazier
Address: Rue du Cazier 80, Charleroi 6001, Belgium
Website: Le Bois Du Cazier
9. Charleroi Belfry - UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is part of the City Hall
A perfect blend of Art Deco and Classicism, this is yet another incredible structure you can’t miss while in Charleroi - it’s even been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and attached to the City Hall, is right smack in the centre of Charleroi.
Address: Place Charles II, Charleroi, Belgium
10. Arboretum of Monceau-Sur-Sambre
A beautiful park with plenty of vegetation, the Arboretum of Monceau-Sur-Sambre is the perfect place to go when you need a break from the city and want to relax in a little green space.
Arboretum of Monceau-Sur-Sambre
Address: Place Albert Ier 34, 6031 Charleroi, Belgium
Come see for yourself
Charleroi has plenty to offer visitors, from its long history recorded in its museums, to beautiful structures in the form of its churches and belfries in the city centre. Come check out what this unassuming but plentiful Belgium city has to offer - you won’t be disappointed.
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