Charleroi has not always been perceived positively but more recently, it has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance. Boasting a rich industrial past, it is now a trendy urban destination.
On the one hand, there is the heritage of heavy industry, the cradle of the Black Country with its chimneys and factories juxtaposed with workers’ houses and slag heaps in a joyous anarchy.
On the other hand, there are comic strips and the culture that comes with it, bright and bold street art featuring international graffiti artists and alternative underground culture. Add to this creative mix an amazing Photography Museum and the Bois du Cazier (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and you have a potent mix of fascinating things to see and do. Major urban renovation works as well as rich cultural life has given the city a new lease of life and colour, attracting visitors from all over the world.
1. Boucle noire
A further 22 km circuit at the GR412, for the most demanding hikers. Extending as far as Charleroi railway station, the circuit passes by particularly attractive places, such as the Marchienne and Monceau castles, the Martinet site and slag heaps and the Dampremy-La Docherie chain of slag heaps. The tour includes climbing the four slag heaps connected to each other by passages, paths and short crossings over secondary roads.
2. Urban explorer ?
Starting from Charleroi-Sud station, the Carolo Street Art Tour offers an opportunity to discover the urban art scene, from the lower to the upper part of the city, from one work to another: urban murals and sculpture and street furniture, customised electricity boxes, “free expression” wall…
3. Three museums not to be missed
Le Bois du Cazier – The location of a mining disaster, the site offers a tour involving three areas: Espace 8 août 1956, the Industry Museum and the Glass Museum. Included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this architectural complex boasts two headframes and is surrounded by three converted slagheaps.
Photography Museum – Housed in a former Carmelite convent, the largest photography museum in Europe covers the history of photography, from its invention to the most recent artistic movements. At the back of the museum, protected by high walls decorated with reproductions of celebrated works, the 8500 m2-park is ideal for walks.
BPS22 – Housed in an industrial glass building constructed for the 1911 industrial and trade exhibition. The BPS22 now enjoys the status of being the Hainaut Province Art Museum, placing special emphasis on art forms dealing with contemporary social and cultural developments and helping visitors to discover the world of contemporary art