Discover this small town in Hennuyère with a rich heritage


The city of origin of the Hazard family can be discovered on these beautiful autumn days.

By Florence Pirard

Braine-le-Comte is located on the main road between Mons and Brussels, 25 km from Mons and 6 km from Soignies. Since 1977 the company has united the villages of Braine-le-Comte, Hennuyères, Henriripont, Petit-Rœulx-lez-Braine, Ronquières and Steenkerque. The city belongs to the judicial district of Mons and is subordinate to the deanery Soignies and the diocese of Tournai.

A turbulent story

Braine-le-Comte was founded by Saint Géry, the Bishop of Cambrai who died around 619, and belongs to the chapter of Sainte-Waudru in Mons. It was then acquired in 1150 by the Count of Hainaut, Baudouin IV the builder. He fortified it and had a fortified castle built by his son Baudouin V. The city was sacked and sacked by the Brabancons in 1424. It was again taken by storm in 1583 by militias that had been set up in the Eighty Years’ War against the Spanish. In 1652 the Spanish king ceded the town of Braine-le-Comte to the House of Arenberg.

In 1677 the governor general of the Netherlands blew up the castle and its ramparts to prevent the French from retreating there. This destruction of the fortifications continued with the disappearance of the Mons and Brussels gates in 1776, which protected the entrance to the city. In 1815 the Prince of Orange’s headquarters stayed in Braine-le-Comte for six weeks. He left that city and found himself on the front line against Marshal Ney in the attack on Gimioncourt in Quatre-Bras, one of the battles in the 1815 campaign that ended in Waterloo.

This beautiful set of Art Nouveau houses, listed since 1991, dates from 1903-1905. © Guy Focant

Wonderful things

Braine-le-Comte is home to a rich and diverse heritage, classified or not: religious buildings, civil buildings, castle, houses, small heritage, civil engineering and natural sites are notable elements.

The Saint-Géry Church. This building in the Gothic style of Hainaut was erected in the 13th century on a promontory in the immediate vicinity of the remains of the old keep of the Counts of Hainaut and greatly expanded and redesigned in the 16th century, especially with the large gray tower and massive that characterizes it. The square floor plan is 40 m high and is flanked at the corners by four octagonal towers. Only the big bell called Maxellende comes from the Ancien Régime. A second bell was installed in 1819 and is named Prosperine in honor of Prosper-Louis, Duke of Arenberg. The original carillon was looted by French Revolutionary troops in 1794. A new carillon was inaugurated in 1911 and melted down during the German occupation in 1942. The current carillon, consisting of 48 bells, was installed in 1967.

The main square

The Arenberg Hotel on Grand Place: a building in the Gothic Renaissance style. © Guy Focant

The Arenberg Hotel on top is a remarkable building, a mixture of local medieval tradition and Renaissance style. It probably dates from the second half of the 16th century and was purchased in 1652 by the Duke of Arenberg, Lord of Braine-le-Comte. The building was rented to the city administration in 1720 and sold to the community on March 24, 1899 by the Arenberg family for 28,000 francs. It was used as the town hall until 1972

It got bored in 1973 and is currently home to meeting rooms. Restored in 1905 by the architect Jules Charbonnelle, who overlooks it with an elegant church tower and refines it with a luminous staircase at the back, it is destroyed by fire in 1914. Over the years it suffers. Lots of repairs that allow him to still stand proud on the Grand-Place, where a kiosk from 1895 is also listed.

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The station

Count the mind
Braine-le-Comte Station, a neoclassical building from the 19th century. © Guy Focant

This neoclassical building was constructed between 1840 and 1843. It is one of the oldest examples of railroad architecture in the country. Set of Art Nouveau houses. You can see Art Nouveau facades mainly in the streets between the train station and the city center. At rue 51 to 63, Henri Neuman, there is a very beautiful homogeneous collection of seven houses designed by Brainois architect Emile François between 1903 and 1905 and classified by another Brainois architect, Jules Charbonnelle since 1991. At 11 rue Neuve there is a very well preserved facade signed by the architect Vanzelle. The Rue du Moulin and Rue de la Station also contain some pearls.

The Ronquières inclined plane

A ferry from the inclined plane from Ronquières. © Guy Focant

The Charleroi-Brussels Canal is one of the oldest in the Belgian network of artificial waterways. The discovery of coal and its extraction in the coal mines of the Charleroi, Center and Borinage regions led to its construction in order to facilitate the transport of the precious fuel to places of consumption, mainly in the north of the country. The Ronquières inclined plane is undoubtedly the most spectacular construction on the Charleroi-Brussels Canal. After many studies, this solution was finally chosen to cross the 68 m long drop between the slopes of the Senne and the Sambre. Work began on March 15, 1962, and the structure was commissioned in April 1968. This extraordinary technical structure consists of two tanks filled with 91 x 12 m water and weighing between 5,000 and 5,700 tons. completely independent and into which the boats enter.

Like real bathtubs on wheels, they carry barges 1,432 m between the lower and upper levels of the leaning aircraft, saving boaters a lot of time compared to crossing multiple locks. The main feature of this principle, however, is the considerable water saving that is achieved in the artificial canal in contrast to conventional systems. Its 150 m high tower, a real milestone in the landscape, proudly dominates the inclined plane, which was built on a completely artificial canal bridge. Supported by 70 columns with a 2 m diameter, it measures 290 m long and 59 m wide and carries a load of around 100,000 tons of water. It serves as the home port for barges waiting to be crossed. We are a little speechless at the sight of this huge concrete bird with outstretched wings.

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Hazards paradise

There are few bushes between the house where Eden and Thorgan Hazard and their brothers grew up and Stade Brainois Square. A hurdle that the current Red Devils captain raised every day to hit the ball when he was old enough to do it. His first official coach was quickly convinced that little Eden would grow up. The player’s talent is evident. In every tournament he is systematically chosen as the best player against well-known teams from abroad. Until the age of 10, Eden Stade Brainois will delight by wearing the club’s colors before moving to Tubize. Then the story is known. Eden Hazard joined the training center in Lille at the age of 14 before making his Ligue 1 debut at the age of 16. Today he wears the prestigious Real Madrid shirt.

Learn more

The publication of the Carnet 161 for the Charleroi-Brussels Canal marks the culmination of an ambitious publication project that began three years ago. At a constant pace of one carnet per year, the edition of this trilogy enables the reader to discover all the historical, technical and historical aspects of these waterways. If you would like to purchase these publications, please contact 081 230 703 or [email protected] They are also available in many bookstores. The trilogy is currently on sale: € 12 for the three notebooks instead of € 18 (“The Charleroi Canal à Bruxelles”, Carnet du Patrimoine 161, “Le Canal du Center à 1,370 tons”, Carnet du Patrimoine 155, and “The Canal du Center historique “, Carnet du Patrimoine 141).

Organize your visit

The Braine-le-Comte Tourist Office centralizes and promotes leisure activities, tourist centers, places of relaxation, lodges and guest rooms. Many walks offer you the opportunity to discover the villages, the forest and nature. Let yourself be surprised by this lovely city. The crooked plane and its panoramic elevators are currently closed for health reasons known to us. But many routes on foot or by bike lead along there and along the Canal du Center historique (Unesco heritage).

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