Charleroi (, , ; wa, Tchålerwè ) is a city and a
municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipali ...
of Wallonia, located in the
province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outs ...
of Hainaut,
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the s ...
. By 1 January 2008, the total population of Charleroi was 201,593.Statistics Belgium; ''Population de droit par commune au 1 janvier 2008'' (excel-file)
Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of 1 January 2008. Retrieved on 19 October 2008.
metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated core city, urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories under the same administrative division, sharing industry, infrastructure and housing. A metro area u ...
, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of with a total population of 522,522 by 1 January 2008, ranking it as the 5th most populous in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the s ...
after Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, and Ghent.Statistics Belgium; ''De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001'' (pdf-file)
Definitions of metropolitan areas in Belgium. The metropolitan area of Charleroi is divided into three levels. First, the central agglomeration (''agglomeratie'') with 288,549 inhabitants (2008-01-01). Adding the closest surroundings (''banlieue'' or suburbs), the total of 405,236. And, with the outer commuter zone (''forensenwoonzone''), the population is 522,522. Retrieved on 19 October 2008.
The inhabitants are called ''Carolorégiens'' or simply ''Carolos''.


The municipality of Charleroi straddles both banks of the river Sambre in an area marked by industrial activities (coal mining and steel industry), which has been nicknamed the ''Pays Noir'' ("Black Country"), part of the larger ''sillon industriel''. Even though most of the factories have closed since the 1950s, the landscape remains dotted with spoil tips and old industrial buildings. Charleroi lies around south of Brussels. The
municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipali ...
comprises: *I. the central city of Charleroi and the following former municipalities, merged into Charleroi in 1977: *II. Dampremy *III. Lodelinsart *IV. Gilly, Belgium, Gilly *V. Montignies-sur-Sambre *VI. Couillet, Belgium, Couillet *VII. Marcinelle *VIII. Mont-sur-Marchienne *IX. Marchienne-au-Pont *X. Monceau-sur-Sambre *XI. Goutroux *XII. Roux, Belgium, Roux *XIII. Jumet *XIV. Gosselies *XV. Ransart, Belgium, Ransart Neighboring municipalities: * a. Les Bons Villers * b. Fleurus * c. Châtelet, Belgium, Châtelet * d. Gerpinnes * e. Ham-sur-Heure-Nalinnes * f. Montigny-le-Tilleul * g. Fontaine-l'Évêque * h. Courcelles, Belgium, Courcelles * i. Pont-à-Celles


Similar to the rest of Belgium Charleroi has an oceanic climate as a result of the Gulf Stream influence warming winters, while also moderating summer warmth in spite of its inland position.


The Charleroi area was already settled in the prehistoric period, with traces of metallurgical and commercial activities along the Sambre. Several public buildings, temples and villas were built in the area in the Ancient Rome, Roman period. Burial places, with jewels and weapons, have been found. The first written mention of a place called Charnoy dates from a 9th-century offering in the Lobbes abbey, which lists various neighboring towns and related tithe duties. During the Middle Ages, Charnoy was one of the many small hamlets in the area, with no more than about 50 inhabitants, part of the County of Namur.


Spanish territorial losses in the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees left a gap between the key fortresses of Mons and Namur; to fill this, Francisco Castel Rodrigo, then Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, expropriated land around Charnoy to build a fortress near the Sambre. In September 1666, it was renamed Charle-roi, or King Charles, in honour of five-year-old Charles II of Spain; the chronogram FVNDATVR CAROLOREGIVM (MDCLVVVI) can be found in the register of the parish of Charnoy. Construction had only just begun when the War of Devolution with France began in 1667, and the Spanish withdrew. France retained the town under the 1668 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668), Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, and its fortifications were completed by Vauban. A bridge was built over the Sambre, connecting the ''Ville Haute'' and ''Ville Basse'', with incentives offered to persuade people to settle there. The French relinquished control in 1678, and although it changed hands several times over the next 50 years, the town remained part of the Netherlands until the foundation of modern Belgium.


Shortly after its foundation, the new city was in turn besieged by the Dutch, ceded to the Spanish in 1678 (Treaty of Nijmegen), taken by the French in 1693, ceded again to the Spanish in 1698 (Treaty of Rijswijk), then taken by the French, the Dutch and the Austrians in 1714 (Treaty of Baden (1714), Treaty of Baden). The France, French Prince of Conti took the city again in 1745, but it was ceded back to Austria in 1748, beginning a period of prosperity under Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II. Glass, steel and coal industries, which had already sprung up a century earlier, could now flourish. Trouble began again in 1790, the year of the civil uprising that eventually led to the United States of Belgium. The Austrians occupied the city, were forced out by the French after the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November 1792, and took it back again four months later. On 12 June 1794, the French revolutionary Army of Sambre-et-Meuse under the command of Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, invested Charleroi and won a decisive victory in the ensuing Battle of Fleurus (1794), Battle of Fleurus. The city took the revolutionary name of Libre-sur-Sambre until 1800. After France's defeat in 1814, the whole area was annexed to the Netherlands, and new walls were built around the city. Napoleon stayed in Charleroi for a couple of days in June 1815, just before the Battle of Waterloo.

1830 to present

The Belgian Revolution of 1830 gave the area its freedom from the Netherlands and ushered in a new era of prosperity, still based mostly on glass, metallurgy and coal, hence the area’s name, ''Pays Noir'' ("Black Country"). After the Industrial Revolution, Charleroi benefited from the increased use of coke in the metallurgical industry. People from across Europe were attracted by the economic opportunities, and the population grew rapidly. Following the Industrial revolution in Wallonia, Charleroi from the 1850s–1860s became one of the most important places where labor strikes broke out. In 1886, 12 strikers were killed by the Belgian army in Roux, Belgium, Roux. In the 1880s, miners in Province of Hainaut, Hainaut were recruited by the Dominion Coal Company in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. These miners were anxious to flee the repression following bloody strikes and riots in Liège and Charleroi during the Walloon Jacquerie of 1886. Walloon miners from Charleroi also emigrated to Alberta, Canada. The working men of Charleroi always played an important role in Belgian general strikes and particularly during the Belgian general strike of 1936, the General strike against Leopold III of Belgium and the 1960-1961 Winter General Strike. By 1871, the fortified walls around the city were completely torn down. Battle of Charleroi, Heavy fighting took place during World War I due to the city's strategic location on the Sambre. The city was badly damaged with further destruction only being prevented by a treaty agreed with the German forces which required the payment of 10 million Belgian Francs, foodstuffs, vehicles and armaments. Spirou magazine which featured the popular cartoon characters Lucky Luke and the Smurfs was launched by the publishing company Éditions Dupuis in 1938. After World War II, Charleroi witnessed a general decline of its heavy industry. Following the merger with several surrounding municipalities in 1977, the city ranks as the largest city in Wallonia and the 4th largest in Belgium.


The Socialist Party (francophone Belgium), Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste or PS) has had a stronghold in Charleroi for some time. However, in October 2006, mayor Jacques Van Gompel of the PS was jailed on fraud and forgery charges. Léon Casaert, also of the PS, became the new mayor, elected by PS, MR and cdH majorities. The MR resigned from the coalition just before the 2007 general election, citing official charges of corruption leveled against a PS alderman in Charleroi. After the Belgian general election, 2007, 2007 general election, the PS placed the Charleroi local party section under full supervision of Paul Magnette, with the city executive resigning. Mayor Casaert was charged with fraud on 18 June 2007, but would only step down after a new city executive had been formed. In April 2010, the director of technical services of Charleroi, Henri Stassens, was convicted in court of fraud and corruption. Image:Église Saint-Christophe de Charleroi (DSCF7701).jpg, Saint-Christophe church

Municipal elections

(*)Under the local list name "C+" (**)Under alternative name


*The Belfries of Belgium and France, belfry, part of the City Hall, is included in the list of World Heritage Sites. *The Maison Dorée was built in 1899 by Art Nouveau architect Alfred Frère. Its name is derived from the golden sgraffito, sgraffiti that adorn the façade. *The city is home to several museums of fine art, glass and other disciplines, as well as a significant one specializing in photography, in the Mont-sur-Marchienne district. * In remembrance to the Jews of Charleroi being murdered by the Nazi regime, the German artist Gunter Demnig has collocated nine Stolpersteine in Charleroi.


The municipality contains an industrial area for electrical engineering and the production of iron, steel, glass and chemicals. Charleroi is in the center of a coal basin. Even so, due to the widespread loss in industrial power in the area since the 1970s, the area suffered some of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in Europe for most of the 1980s and 1990s. However, from the early 2000s, the overall economy of the area has diversified to include health care, transportation and telecommunications. Nevertheless, the poverty rates are still significant.


Charleroi is Belgium's biggest city without having its own university. Since 1966, the UCLouvain, University of Louvain is implemented in Charleroi, with three faculties, on its UCLouvain Charleroi campus based in the city center and in Montignies-sur-Sambre, including the Louvain School of Management and, more recently, the Louvain School of Engineering, organising Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and research. Other universities have since started operations in Charleroi, including the Universities of Université de Namur, Namur, University of Mons, Mons and the ''Université libre de Bruxelles''.

Primary and secondary schools

Secondary schools include: * Athénée Royal Jules Destrée * Athénée Royal Orsini Dewerpe * * Athénée Royal Les Marlaires * * Athénée Royal Vauban * Athénée Royal Yvonne Vieslet * Centre Educatif Communal Secondaire — La Garenne * Institut d'Enseignement Technique Secondaire de l’UT * Institut Jean Jaurès de l’UT * Centre Educatif Communal Secondaire de Couillet-Marcinelle * Institut Provincial d’Enseignement Secondaire Paramédical La Samaritaine



The Brussels South Charleroi Airport in Gosselies, north of the centre, opened in 1919 as a flight school. Later, it housed the Avions Fairey, Fairey aircraft-factory building. Gosselies is now used as an alternate airport for Brussels. Low-cost carrier Ryanair is the largest airline to provide service there; others include Wizz Air, Jetairfly. Seasonal holiday charters also use the airport. A new terminal opened in January 2008, replacing a much smaller building which had exceeded capacity. Brussels is north of Charleroi Airport.


Charleroi is connected by train to other Belgian major cities through the main Charleroi-South railway station. The city also has a secondary railway station, Charleroi-West railway station, Charleroi-West, on the Charleroi-to-Ottignies line.

Public transport

Public transport is provided by Société Régionale Wallonne du Transport, TEC (Transport En Commun), the Walloons, Walloon public transport service. The greater Charleroi region is served by bus lines and a light-rail rapid transit, Metro system, (Charleroi Pre-metro, Métro Léger de Charleroi). Part of the latter is famous for incorporating one of the few remnants of the Vicinal tramway, Vicinal, the former Belgian national tramway network.

Métro léger de Charleroi (MLC)

The Charleroi Pre-metro, TEC Light Rail Métro is equally famous for the parts of the system which were never built, partially built or fully completed but not opened. It was planned in the 1960s as a 48 km (30 mi.) light-rail network, operating on the heavy rail metro infrastructure, consisting of eight branch lines radiating from a central loop downtown. However, only one line (to Petria), part of another line (to Gilly) and three-quarters of the loop were actually built and opened to traffic, all from 1976 to 1996. Another branch line toward the suburb of Châtelet (Châtelineau) was almost fully built, to the extent of installing power cables, escalators and still-working electric signals in the first three stations but was never opened as passenger numbers would be too low to economically justify the extra staff. The high costs of construction, a decline in Charleroi's traditional "smokestack" industries and questioning of the scope of the whole project in proportion to the actual demand for it are cited as reasons for the original plan's becoming unfulfilled. The central loop and the Gilly branch as far as Soleilmont were completed in 2012, with funds from the European Investment Bank. The Gosselies branch opened as a street-level tramline in 2013. There are no plans to open any part of the Châtelet branch.


During the 1990s, Charleroi was notorious for some violence due to its high poverty and unemployment rates. Marc Dutroux lived in Marcinelle, a suburb of Charleroi. On 6 August 2016, a man 2016 stabbing of Charleroi police officers, attacked two policewomen with a machete.


Charleroi is home to a number of champion teams in various sports. Spirou Charleroi in basketball has been an eight-times winner in the Basketball League Belgium Division I, Basketball League Belgium. La Villette Charleroi in table tennis is the most successful club in the European Champions League (table tennis), Champions League with five titles and has been the Belgian champion multiple times. Action 21 Charleroi in futsal has won one UEFA Futsal Cup and nine titles in the Belgian Division 1. In Football (soccer), football, R. Charleroi S.C., Royal Charleroi SC and R.O.C. de Charleroi-Marchienne, ROC Charleroi have finished second in the Belgian Pro League. The 30,000-capacity Stade du Pays de Charleroi was a venue at UEFA Euro 2000.

Notable people from Charleroi

Born in Charleroi

*Jean-Marie Andre, scientist *Pierre Carette, extreme-left terrorist *Alexandre Czerniatynski, football player *Jules Delhaize, 19th-century grocer and businessman, founder of what would become the Delhaize Group *Louis Delhaize, founder of the Louis Delhaize Group *Jules Destrée, lawyer and politician, born in Marcinelle, 19th century *Karel Erjavec, Slovenian lawyer and politician, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Slovenia), Minister of Foreign Affairs; born in Aiseau *Albert Frère, businessman and the richest person in Belgium *Régis Genaux, football player *Axel Hervelle, Real Madrid basketball player *Paul-François Huart-Chapel, industrialist, 19th century *Jean-Pierre Lecocq (1947–1992), molecular biologist and entrepreneur *Georges Lemaître (1894–1966), priest, and astronomer, 20th century *Fabrice Lig, music producer, 20th century *Joseph Maréchal, Jesuit priest, philosopher, 20th century *Didier Matrige, painter and draughtsman, 20th century *Joëlle Milquet, politician, 20th century *Chantal Mouffe, political theorist, 20th century *François-Joseph Navez, painter, 18th century *Paul Pastur, lawyer and politician * Gaston Salmon (1878–1917) – épée fencer, Olympic champion *Marcel Thiry, poet, 19th century *Raymond Troye, wartime writer, 20th century *Annette Vande Gorne, composer *Fernand Verhaegen, painter and etcher, born in Marchienne-au-Pont, 19th century

Resided in Charleroi

*Robert Arcq, writer *Paul Cuvelier, painter and comics artist *Muriel Degauque, suicide bomber in Iraq *Arthur Grumiaux, violinist *René Magritte, painter *Johan Nunez, drummer for Nightrage/Firewind *Arthur Rimbaud, poet *Paul Verlaine, poet

Twin cities

* Hirson, France * Saint-Junien, France * Schramberg, Germany * Waldkirch, Germany * Manoppello, Italy * Casarano, Italy * Follonica, Italy * Himeji, Hyōgo, Himeji, Japan * Donetsk, Ukraine * Pittsburgh, US * Uşak, Turkey * Alvdal, Norway * Bjugn, Norway

See also

*Aéropole Science Park *Dauphines Charleroi *ICDI affair *List of municipalities in Wallonia *Municipalities of Belgium *R. Charleroi S.C. *R.O.C. de Charleroi-Marchienne, R.O.C. Charleroi


External links

- *
Official web siteUnofficial history of tramways in Charleroi

*[http://news.scotsman.com/world/Welcome-to-Charleroi-Tourism-trebles.5151216.jp "Welcome to Charleroi: Tourism trebles in the world's ugliest town"] ''Scotsman'' newspaper, April 7, 2009 {{Authority control Charleroi, Sub-municipalities of Charleroi Municipalities of Hainaut (province) World Heritage Sites in Belgium 1666 establishments in the Holy Roman Empire