Charleroi (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁləʁwa], Walloon:
Tchålerwè) is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the
province of Hainaut, Belgium. By January 1, 2008, the total population
Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the
outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,462 square kilometres
(564 sq mi) with a total population of 522,522 by January 1,
2008, ranking it as the 5th most populous in
Belgium after Brussels,
Antwerp, Liège, and Ghent. The inhabitants are called
Carolorégiens or simply Carolos.
2.3 1830 to present
3.1 Municipal elections
6.3 Public transport
6.4 Métro léger de
9 Notable people from Charleroi
9.1 Born in Charleroi
9.2 Resided in Charleroi
10 Twin cities
11 See also
13 External links
Municipality of Charleroi.
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 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Brussels.
The municipality comprises:
I. the central city of Charleroi
and the following former municipalities, merged into
a. Les Bons Villers
Charleroi in 1770s
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 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.
The history of the city of
Charleroi began in 1666. In the spring of
that year, Francisco Castel Rodrigo, Governor of the
the service of five-year-old Charles II of Spain, expropriated the
area from the local lords to build a fortress near the Sambre. In
September of that same year, the name Charnoy was officially replaced
by that of the newly founded city of Charles-Roi (King Charles), so
named in honor of Charles II. The chronogram FVNDATVR CAROLOREGIVM
(MDCLVVVI) can be found in the register of the parish of Charnoy for
the year 1666. A year later, Louis XIV’s armies, under the command
of the Vicomte de Turenne, besieged the unfinished fortress.
Sébastien Le Prestre de
Vauban completed the fortification work; the
future city was granted its privileges; a bridge was built over the
river, and free land was distributed to the inhabitants.
Copy of the plan-relief of
Charleroi made in 1696. View from the
southwest. On display at the town-hall.
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). The French
Prince of Conti
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. 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 November 6, 1792, and took it back again four months later. On June
12, 1794, the French revolutionary
Army of Sambre-et-Meuse
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. 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
Orleans street Sunday market
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.
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. In the 1880s, miners in 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
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
Heavy fighting took place during
World War I
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
Charleroi witnessed a general decline of its heavy industry.
Following the merger with several surrounding municipalities in 1977,
the city as of 2013[update] ranks as the largest city in
the 4th largest in Belgium.
Charleroi city hall
The 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 2007 general
election, the PS placed its local party office under full
confinement,[clarification needed] with the city executive
resigning. Mayor Casaert was charged with fraud on June 18, 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
Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste)
Reformist Movement (Mouvement Réformateur)
Humanist Democratic Centre (Centre Démocrate Humaniste)
National Front (Front National)
Palais des Beaux-Arts
The belfry, part of the City Hall, is included in the list of World
The Maison Dorée was built in 1899 by
Art Nouveau architect Alfred
Frère. Its name is derived from the golden sgraffiti that adorn the
The city is home to several museums of fine art, glass and other
disciplines, as well as a significant one specializing in photography,
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 Airport in Gosselies, 7 km
(4.3 mi) north of the center, opened in 1919 as a flight
school. Later, it housed the Fairey aircraft-factory building.
Gosselies is now used as an alternate airport for Brussels. Low-cost
Ryanair is the largest airline to provide service there;
others include Wizz Air, Jetairfly. Seasonal holiday charters also use
A new terminal opened in January 2008, replacing a much smaller
building which had exceeded capacity.
Brussels is 47 km (29 mi) north of
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, on the
West Station (MLC)
Public transport is provided by TEC (Transport En Commun), the Walloon
service. The greater
Charleroi region is served by bus lines and a
light-rail Metro system, (Métro Léger de Charleroi). Part of the
latter is famous for incorporating one of the few remnants of the
Vicinal, the former Belgian national tramway network.
Métro léger de
The 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.
Completion of the central loop and the Gilly branch as far as
Soleilmont are planned within the next five years, with funds from the
European Investment Bank. The
Gosselies branch will also open as a
street-level tramline. There are no plans to open any part of the
During the 1990s,
Charleroi was notorious for some violence due to its
high poverty and unemployment rates. Marc Dutroux, nicknamed "the
Monster", lived in Marcinelle, a suburb of Charleroi. On 6 August
2016, a man 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.
La Villette Charleroi in table tennis is
the most successful club in the Champions League with five titles and
has been the Belgian champion multiple times.
Action 21 Charleroi
Action 21 Charleroi in
futsal has won one UEFA
Futsal Cup and nine titles in the Belgian
Division 1. In football, Royal
Charleroi SC and ROC
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
Francois-Joseph Navez (Self-portrait)
Violinist, Arthur Grumiaux
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
Karel Erjavec, Slovenian lawyer and politician, 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
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,
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
Aéropole Science Park
List of municipalities in Wallonia
Municipalities of Belgium
^ Population per municipality as of 1 January 2017 (XLS; 397 KB)
^ a b Statistics Belgium; Population de droit par commune au 1 janvier
2008 (excel-file) Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of
January 1, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
^ Statistics Belgium; De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001 (pdf-file)
Archived October 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Definitions of
metropolitan areas in Belgium. The metropolitan area of
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 2008-10-19.
^ But a consular report indicated they were dissatisfied with wages
and working conditions, and they moved to other mining centers. These
Walloon miners were experienced in organizing unions and working-men's
associations. They immigrated also to collieries on Vancouver Island
in Canada. See Louis Balthazar, Leen Haenens, Images of Canadianness:
Visions on Canada's Politics, Culture, Economics, International
Council for Canadian Studies, University of Ottawa Press, 1998,
^ Louis Balthazar and Leen Haenens, Images of Canadianness: Visions on
Canada's Politics, Culture, Economics, International Council for
Canadian Studies, University of Ottawa Press, 1998, p. 73,
^ Miners from
Wallonia began arriving at the collieries in
work for West Canadian Collieries, founded in 1903 by a group of
French and Belgian entrepreneurs, and for Canadian Coal Consolidated,
a Paris-based firm. Léon Cabeaux, a well-known union leader, who had
organized a particularly violent strike in Hainaut in 1886, settled in
Lethbridge and soon attracted disgruntled compatriots from the
Pennsylvania in the US. The miners soon became deeply
involved in labor radicalism, because in
Alberta the mine disasters
were among the worst anywhere, and there were no provisions for the
welfare of families of the miners maimed or killed in the workplace.
Frank Soulet, Joseph Lothier and Gustave Henry emerged as dedicated
socialist union leaders. in Louis Balthazar and Leen Haenens, Images
of Canadianness: Visions on Canada's Politics, Culture, Economics,
International Council for Canadian Studies, University of Ottawa
Press, 1998, p. 75, ISBN 0-7766-0489-9.
^ Harriet O'Brien. "Charleroi: Phoenix from the flames
Travel". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
^ a b "Charleroi: A richly rewarding gem
Europe Travel". The
Independent. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
^ "deredactie.be". Vrtnieuws.net. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
^ "Le MR quitte la majorité à Charleroi" (in French). La Dernière
Heure. 2007-05-28. Retrieved 2007-06-10.
^ "Le collège carolo démissionnera ce mardi" (in French). Le Soir.
2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-06-12. [permanent dead link]
^ "Casaert reste bourgmestre" (in French). La Libre. 2007-06-19.
^  Archived April 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
Charleroi Belfry, UNESCO World Heritage Site". Opt.be. 2016-01-03.
^ "Museum of Photography in Charleroi". Opt.be. 2015-03-02. Retrieved
^ How it all started. Charleroi-airport.com
Avions Fairey Gosselies. Baha.be. Retrieved on 2012-12-21.
^ "Urbanrail.net". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on
2010-04-10. Retrieved 2016-08-07. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url
status unknown (link)
^ "Diggelfjoer: Abandoned". Diggelfjoer.swalker.nl. Retrieved
^ "EIB loan for
Charleroi light metro". Railway Gazette. Retrieved
Charleroi Prémétro (Belgium).
UrbanRail.Net (1992-08-28). Retrieved on 2012-12-21.
^ Mcneil, Donald G.. (2001-09-05)
Charleroi Journal – A Rust-Belt
City's Mean Streets Keep Their Edge. NYTimes.com. Retrieved on
^ Belgian Faces Trial at Last In Sex Killings – New York Times.
Nytimes.com (2004-03-02). Retrieved on 2012-12-21.
^ "Islamic State Claims Machete Attack In Belgium". News.sky.com.
^ "EURO 2000 - The Official Site". Web.archive.bibalex.org. Archived
from the original on 2001-08-10. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charleroi.
Charleroi travel guide from Wikivoyage
Official web site
Unofficial history of tramways in
Charleroi (in French)
Urban adventurers explore and photograph an unused Métro line
"Welcome to Charleroi: Tourism trebles in the world's ugliest town"
Scotsman newspaper, April 7, 2009
Places adjacent to Charleroi
Pont-à-Celles, Les Bons Villers
Municipalities in the Province of Hainaut, Wallonia, Belgium
Les Bons Villers