Discover MONS, Belgium's Capital City of Culture, 2015
Discover MONS, Belgium’s Capital City of Culture, 2015
MONS, Belgium has recently been selected by the European Union, an association of the leading countries in Europe as the “lean to” city for culture and art, one of two cities in Europe to bear this title in 2015.It has been officially declared a”European Capital of Culture”.
With less than 100,000 inhabitants, and less than 50 miles from Lille, France, the European Capital of Culture in 2004 and roughly 45 miles from Plzen in the Czech Republic, the second city to bear the title this year, MONS will celebrate its position over the next twelve months with more than 300 special events, 5,000 artists and over 40 exhibitions,20 of which are expected to have an international tone.It’s a “cultural hotspot”according to Yves Vasseur, one of the principal organizers of the year-long festivities.The program kicked off on January 24 in the city’s main square amidst a huge fireworks display, a hot air balloon lift, and thunderous music. The opening drew an estimated 100,000 visitors we’re told.The theme is one of” …artistic creation and the future.” According to Elio di Rupo, the town magistrate and once prime minister, it took 12 years of planning and $70 million in Euros to pull it off.The so-called:”digital innovation valley” composed of some of the world’s leading brands, i.e., IBM, Microsoft, Google in the industrial zone pitched in to make this happen. More than 80% of the events planned are stated as ” free of charge.” And the partnership of the Foundation et l’ Universitie de Louvain, aka the UCL Mons will offer a multiple of exchanges between the university, artists, and public institutions at large..Arsonic, a new space dedicated to sound and music will also be open to the public as will the Maison Folie. And internationally recognized architect Santiago Calatrava has been selected to construct the city’s rail station. Sun City, a labyrinth of over 8,000 sunflowers created by designer Fany Bouyagui will be on display from July 15 in the Grand-Place de Mons.This is a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh,France’s preeiminent impressionist at the turn of the last century who spent his early years in the Borinage basin on the outskirts of the city. To mark the city’s pride the Baroque belfry recognized by UNESCO as a Belgian exclusive, will be open to all visitors.The creation of the Doudon Museum inside the city limits will also be open to the public starting on the Christian feast of Pentecost and culminating in a huge folkloric fair with a reenactment of the battle of St. George and the Dragon.
MONS, strategically located on the Franco-Belgian border is at the center of Europe’s major crossroads, and in the middle of the London-Paris-Antwerp triangle.The country itself is in fact a federal monarchy and hosts a number of international associations and institutions. It is a founding member of the European Union. NATO’s world headquarters are situated here.It covers an area of over 11,000 square miles with a population of over 11 million.The customs and languages are German, Dutch and French. The two largest regions are Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south. It was once part of Gallia Belgica, a Roman province. In the 2oth century Belgium was dubbed the “Battlefield of Europe” both in the First and Second World Wars.
Belgium leads the world in the number of varieties of beer, more than 1100 in fact. ( The world’s largest brewer by volume is Anhauser-Busch InBev, located in the city of Leuven ).
The Trappist Abbey in Westvleteren is rated as the worl’s “best beer”. it is perhaps the oldest in the world. And while “steak and fries” and “mussels with fries” are national dishes,
Belgium is one of the world’s leading producers of fine chocolate. Companies like Neuhaus, Godiva, Cote d’Or and Leonidas, with secondary producers like Burie, DelRey in Antwerp and Mary’s in Brussels,are world famous
This is the year to discover Belgium and MONS, its Capital City of Culture in 2015.