Facts and Data
Unesco World heritage since: 2012
Size of heritage: 118 ha
- Buffer zone: 345 ha
The four sites of the property form a strip 170 km long by 3–15 km wide, crossing Belgium from east to west, consisting of the best-preserved 19th- and 20th-century coal-mining sites of the country. It features examples of the utopian architecture from the early periods of the industrial era in Europe within a highly integrated, industrial and urban ensemble, notably the Grand-Hornu colliery and workers’ city designed by Bruno Renard in the first half of the 19th century. Bois-du-Luc includes numerous buildings erected from 1838 to 1909 and one of Europe’s oldest collieries dating back to the late 17th century. While Wallonia had hundreds of collieries, most have lost their infrastructure, while the four components of the listed site retain a high measure of integrity.
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Major Mining Sites of Wallonia
The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Wallonia region of Belgium. This site encompasses four different coal mining sites, including Grand-Hornu, Bois-du-Luc, Bois du Cazier, and Blegny-Mine. These sites played a significant role in the industrial revolution and the development of the coal mining industry in Europe.
The coal mining industry in Wallonia dates back to the 12th century when coal was first discovered in the region. However, it was during the 19th century that the industry experienced significant growth and became a major economic force. The mining sites in Wallonia were at the forefront of technological advancements and played a crucial role in the industrialization of Europe.
Grand-Hornu, built in the early 19th century, is a remarkable example of an early industrial complex. It was designed by French architect Bruno Renard and served as a model for other mining sites in Europe. Bois-du-Luc, established in the 1830s, is another important site that showcases the evolution of mining techniques and the social organization of workers.
Bois du Cazier, which operated from the 1820s until the 1960s, is known for the tragic mining disaster that occurred in 1956, resulting in the loss of 262 lives. This event marked a turning point in the history of mining safety regulations. Blegny-Mine, the most recent of the four sites, operated until 1980 and provides insight into the modernization of the coal mining industry.
Today, the Major Mining Sites of Wallonia are not active coal mines but have been preserved as cultural heritage sites. They offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the history and significance of the coal mining industry in Wallonia.
Grand-Hornu has been transformed into a cultural center that hosts exhibitions, conferences, and artistic events. The site also includes a museum that showcases the history of the mining industry and the daily lives of the workers. Bois-du-Luc, in addition to its museum, offers guided tours that allow visitors to experience the underground mining galleries.
Bois du Cazier, now a memorial site, pays tribute to the victims of the 1956 disaster and provides insights into the working conditions of miners. The site includes a museum that exhibits mining equipment, photographs, and personal stories of the workers. Blegny-Mine, with its underground galleries and surface facilities, offers guided tours that provide a comprehensive understanding of the coal mining process.
The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia are not only important for their historical significance but also for their architectural and technological value. These sites serve as a reminder of the industrial revolution and the impact it had on society. They provide a unique insight into the lives of the workers and the challenges they faced in the coal mining industry.
By preserving and promoting these sites, UNESCO aims to raise awareness about the importance of industrial heritage and its contribution to the development of human civilization. The Major Mining Sites of Wallonia stand as a testament to the region's rich industrial past and continue to inspire visitors from around the world.
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Medium airport - 12 mi (20 km) Valenciennes-Denain Airport
Medium airport - 18 mi (30 km) Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Medium airport - 27 mi (44 km) Lille-Lesquin Airport
Medium airport - 34 mi (55 km) Wevelgem Airport
Medium airport - 38 mi (62 km) Suarlée Airport
Small airport - 41 mi (67 km) Brussels Airport
Large airport - 43 mi (69 km) Laon - Chambry Airport
Small airport - 59 mi (95 km) Liège Airport
Large airport - 72 mi (116 km) Maastricht Aachen Airport
Large airport - 91 mi (147 km) Eindhoven Airport
Large airport - 97 mi (156 km) Charles de Gaulle International Airport
Large airport - 114 mi (184 km)
Bigger and popular cities in the wider vicinity are these:
- Chasse Royale
These are some smaller cities that might be interesting. They are all rather close.
- Boussu Bois
- Coron du bois
- La Bouverie
- La Courbette
- La Hamaide
- Les Wareschaix
- Petit Dour
- Petit Hornu
- Petit Wasmes
- Planche a l'Aune