Charleroi
 
Charleroi (Walloon. Tchålerwè ) is a city in Belgium in the historic Walloon region. Known as one of Europe's largest industrial centers. It has thrived on coal and steel production. Charleroi is now considered one of the poorest cities in Belgium with many social problems resulting from the decline of industrial production. However this unique place which is home to the world-famous Museum of Photography has a wonderful industrial heritage and some interesting sights.

Charleroi is located on the Sambre River in Hainaut Province. The city is 50 km south of Brussels and connected to the Belgian capital by canal. The city has a temperate maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters.

The population of Charleroi is 201.8 thousand people. The area of the city is 102.08 km². The language is French. Currency is Euro.
History
Charleroi neighborhoods have been inhabited since prehistoric times. During the Roman period several public buildings temples and villas were built in the area. The city itself was founded in 1666 as the fortress of Charnois. Soon enough Charleroi became a large industrial center specializing in coal mining and steel and glass production.

Industry played a key role in the 1960s. In the future industrial production declined which significantly affected the prosperity of the city. Charleroi is now developing as a major transportation and cultural hub trying to solve social problems associated with the closure of mines and steel mills.
Notable sights
The Bois du Casier is a former coal mine in Marcinel near Charleroi the site of the worst mining disaster in Belgium's history. The tragedy was a turning point in the Belgian coal industry as the mines were later obliged to adhere to much stricter safety standards due to which some of them closed. In 2012. This industrial site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Charleroi is known as the birthplace of Belgian comic book culture. Several statues with their heroes are scattered around the city.

Located in the heart of Charleroi on Charles II Square St. Christoph Church has a rather peculiar architecture. This religious edifice was built in 1667 as a chapel and converted into a baroque church in the 18th century. Since then the building has undergone several other modifications and renovations the largest of which took place in the 1950s which gave the church a view of the Byzantine basilica. The most interesting feature of this building is a large 200 square meter mosaic made of millions of pieces of colored glass and covered with fine gold leaf.

One of the most beautiful places in Charleroi is the Albert I Square which serves as a relative boundary between the Upper City and the Lower City. This place is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings built in different periods.

The Town Hall is an eclectic building that combines classicism and art deco architecture. It was built by Joseph Andre and opened in 1936. The most notable feature of the town hall is the 70-meter bell tower. Interestingly this building is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The center of Charleroi is relatively compact and great for walking. As the town is located on a small hill the northern part of the historic center is known as Haute Ville (Upper Town in French) and the southern part is Ville Basse (Lower Town in French). Most of the sights are in the Upper Town. The most picturesque part of the Lower City is the river Sambre on the north shore of which are shady boulevards.
In Charleroi, history lovers can visit the old Cartier Castle , considered one of the most beautiful castles in the region. It was built in 1635 and remained virtually unchanged until the early 20th century. In 1932, there was a large fire that almost completely destroyed the historic building. The castle was rebuilt in 2001 and is open to visitors.

Charleroi is known for its whole array of magnificent museums:

BPS22 is an art museum housed in a glass and iron industrial building that is listed on the Historic Sites List and used as a Walloon Palace of the Arts in 1911. The museum has an exhibition area of ​​about 2500 square meters. Exposures include photographs, paintings and art installations.

The Museum of Fine Arts - 3,000 items, including paintings, sculptures, photographs and ceramics. The art gallery covers such areas as surrealism, abstraction and post-impressionism.

The world-famous
Museum of Photography located in the former Carmelite Monastery.
How to visit
Charleroi is a well-known airport that takes many budget flights. The city is also connected by regular rail connections with Brussels and other major cities in Belgium.
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