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Mons - historical background

Mons is on a hill or mound (mont in French) and Mont became MONS with the help of time, invasions and different accents…

This mound was already settled in pre-historical times, as diggings have shown. Later, in 57 BC, the Romans invaded the region and constructed roads to facilitate the movements of their legions. The mound overlooking one of these roads was an ideal spot to build a military camp.

However, the real start of Mons as a town took place in the 7th century when a noble lady named Waudru had a monastery erected here. The many craftsmen employed settled around it. Later in the 9th century, a castle was built and more and more people settled around it in order to be able to take refuge behind its walls when Vikings were on the rampage.

In the 12th century, the walls were extended and towers and a moat were added. Three gateways gave access to the town. The River Trouille, which in those days still flowed through the town, attracted brewers, bakers, tanneries and other crafts needing quality water.

To protect this growing population, a second wall was added in the 13th century. It had six gateways.

Mons was becoming a prosperous town and the actual Town Hall was built in 1458 and later enlarged. The construction of the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru started around the same time, but took 200 years to finish.

The Belfry (280ft) was built later on during the 17th century (1662).

Finally, after 1830 and the Independence of Belgium, the fortifications, having become obsolete, were destroyed between 1861 and 1865.

In 1872, the River Trouille was deviated out of town. A large boulevard, planted with shady trees, took the place of the demolished fortifications.

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