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Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture


With its 95.000 inhabitants, Mons is a small town in the Hainaut, halfway between Brussels and Lille. A very dynamic "small town" with a lot of ambition. An ambition which is plain to see in the "Mons 2015 European Capital of Culture" project.

A monkey, a dragon and a Doudou

Mons has an incredibly rich history and heritage. The town hall which adorns the Grand Place is one of the most recognised sights. It remains, however, discreet about its treasures. The discovery begins with the superb, one of a kind, keyhole, directly inspired by the city's coat of arms.

Then there are the three historical emblems of Mons: a monkey, a dragon and a Doudou. The monkey of the "Grand Garde", a forged iron statuette, is found on the building's facade. It is tradition to stroke his head with your left hand for good luck.

The dragon, "la Biète" to the people of Mons, is the symbol of social disorder. Facing this disorder is Saint-George, the guarantor of order and continuity. Every year, on the Sunday after Pentecost, Saint-George battles the dragon… and strikes it down. This battle of "Lumeçon" which takes place during the Doudou is a moment of popular celebration, which the whole family takes part in.

Another gem of Mons' heritage: Sainte-Waudru collegiate church, named after Saint Waltrude, the patron saint of Mons. A patron saint who also plays a part in the Doudou, during the procession of the car d’or. The car d’or, is a old wooden, painted and guilded chariot that dates back to 1781 and carries the shrine to Saint Waltrude through the city streets to the Sainte-Waudru ramp. Legend has it that if the chariot is unable to climb the ramp, the city will be plagued by bad luck for the coming year!

European Capital of Culture in 2015

Since 2002, Mons has been the cultural capital of Wallonia. A city with a stunning amount of historical and cultural heritage, Mons will write a new chapter of its history on 24 January 2015 by becoming European Capital of Culture. The event will start with a ceremony that already promises to be spectacular, with phosphorescent dragons, aerial acrobatics and many more surprises.

The city of Mons has been concocting a rich programme for this exceptional year for several years. The aim is to bring together for this project, all the ideas and effort of all people, including those from further afield than Mons. Already today the programme is copious and the festivities promise to be mouth-watering and innovative: 100 projects, 14 partnering towns and cities, 23 institutions and… thousands of participants and visitors.

Mons 2015: an epic

To welcome the thousands of visitors in the best possible way, Mons is blessed with a brand new train station created by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This gem is in itself an adventure, confirms the importance that the city and its inhabitants place on their future visitors and their satisfaction.

The new station will not be alone, it will come with a new neighbourhood, a veritable centre for design, a congress centre and new museums.

Being in Mons in 2015 will make you an actor of culture. 2015 will be a year that puts art on centre stage, but above all the artist, the creator and his works, world and art. An art that opens to the Mons region and the whole world. Visitors will be sleeping in Tokyo, eating in Milan and dancing in Lille. More than just the European Capital of Culture, Mons will also be the capital of dreams and sharing.

It will encourage sharing between generations, like at Café Europa, with a human-sized video game where Nadia, 20 years old, teaches Huguette, 88 years old, how to use Facebook. Technology will no longer be merely virtual.

The monkey of Grand Garde (c) WBT - Joseph Jeanmart
A pedestrian city centre (c) WBT - JP.Remy
Sainte-Waudru collegiate church and the Belfry are listed UNESCO sites (c) WBT - Anibal Trejo
The Doudou, a listed UNESCO Intangible heritage (c) WBT - J.Jeanmart

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Wallonia

An open-minded area, a land of exchange

As a region, Wallonia is naturally open to the world and conversant in different languages and cultures. A vocation for exporting. An extraordinary sense of welcome.