The city of origin of the Hazard family is to be discovered during these beautiful autumnal days.
By Florence Pirard
Braine-le-Comte is located on the main road linking Mons to Brussels, 25 km from Mons and 6 km from Soignies. Since 1977, the entity has brought together the villages of Braine-le-Comte, Hennuyères, Henriripont, Petit-Rœulx-lez-Braine, Ronquières and Steenkerque. The town belongs to the judicial district of Mons and comes under the deanery of Soignies and the diocese of Tournai.
A tumultuous story
Founded by Saint Géry, the bishop of Cambrai who died around 619, Braine-le-Comte is attached 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 pillaged and sacked in 1424 by the Brabançons. It was again stormed in the year 1583 by militias raised against the Spaniards during the Eighty Years’ War. In 1652, the King of Spain 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 withdrawing there. This destruction of the fortifications continued with the disappearance in 1776 of the gates of Mons and Brussels protecting the entrance to the city. In 1815, the headquarters of the Prince of Orange stayed in Braine-le-Comte for six weeks. He left this town to find himself in the front line in front of Marshal Ney, attacking Gimioncourt, at Quatre-Bras, one of the battles of the 1815 campaign which ended in Waterloo.
Braine-le-Comte is home to a rich and varied heritage, classified or not: religious buildings, civil buildings, castle, houses, small heritage, civil engineering and natural sites are all remarkable elements.
The Saint-Géry church. Camped on a promontory in the immediate vicinity of the remains of the former keep of the Counts of Hainaut, this Hainaut Gothic-style building was built in the 13th century then greatly amplified and redesigned in the 16th century, notably with the addition of the large gray tower and massive that characterizes it. Square in plan, it rises to 40 m in height and is flanked at the angles by four octagonal turrets. Only the big bell named Maxellende dates from the Ancien Régime. A second bell was installed in 1819 and bears the name of Prospérine in honor of Prosper-Louis, Duke of Arenberg. The original carillon was looted in 1794 by the troops of the French Revolution. A new carillon was inaugurated in 1911 and melted down during the German occupation in 1942. The current carillon, made up of forty-eight bells, was installed in 1967.
The main square
Located on it, the Hotel d’Arenberg 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 acquired in 1652 by the Duke of Arenberg, Lord of Braine-le-Comte. The building was rented to the city’s magistrates in 1720 and sold to the town on March 24, 1899, for 28,000 francs, by the Arenberg family. It was used as a town hall until 1972. C
bored in 1973, it currently houses meeting rooms. Restored in 1905 by the architect Jules Charbonnelle, who surmounts it with an elegant steeple and grafts it with a luminous staircase at the rear, it is then devastated by a fire in 1914. Over the years, it suffers many repairs that allow it to still proudly stand on the Grand-Place, where a kiosk, also listed, dating from 1895 takes place.
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The train station
This neoclassical building was built between 1840 and 1843. It is one of the oldest witnesses of railway architecture in the country. Set of Art Nouveau houses. You can see Art Nouveau facades mainly in the streets between the station and the city center. At nos 51 to 63 rue Henri Neuman is a very beautiful homogeneous set of seven houses designed by the brainois architect Emile François between 1903 and 1905 and classified since 1991. Other beautiful residences in the same street are due to a another Brainois architect, Jules Charbonnelle. At No. 11 rue Neuve, there is a very well preserved facade signed by the architect Van Zelle. Rue du Moulin and Rue de la Station also contain a few pearls.
The inclined plane of Ronquières
The Charleroi-Brussels canal is one of the oldest in the network of Belgian artificial waterways. The discovery of coal and its extraction in the coal mines of the regions of Charleroi, Center and Borinage led to its construction 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 of the Charleroi-Brussels canal. After numerous studies, this solution was finally chosen to cross the 68 m drop separating the slopes of the Senne and the Sambre. Work began on March 15, 1962 and the structure was put into service in April 1968. This exceptional engineering structure consists of two tanks filled with water measuring 91 m by 12 m and weighing between 5,000 and 5,700 tonnes, totally independent and in which the boats enter.
Like real bathtubs on wheels, they carry barges over a distance of 1,432 m between the lower and upper levels of the inclined plane, allowing boatmen to save considerable time compared to crossing several locks. But the essential feature of this principle is the significant water saving achieved on the artificial canal, unlike traditional systems. Its 150 m high tower, a real marker in the landscape, proudly dominates the inclined plane, built on a completely artificial canal bridge. Supported by 70 columns 2 m in diameter, it measures 290 m long and 59 m wide and supports a load of around 100,000 tonnes of water. It serves as a home port for barges awaiting crossing. We are a little speechless at the sight of this huge concrete bird with outstretched wings.
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Between the house that saw Eden and Thorgan Hazard and their brothers grow up and the Stade Brainois field, there are only a few bushes. A hedge that the current captain of the Red Devils roughed up daily to hit the ball as soon as he was old enough to do so. His first official trainer was quickly convinced that little Eden would grow up. The talent of the player is evident. During each tournament, even against prestigious teams from abroad, he is systematically named best player. Until his 10 years, Eden will delight the Stade Brainois by wearing the club’s colors before his transfer to Tubize. Then the story is known. Eden Hazard joined the Lille training center at 14, before his debut in Ligue 1 at the age of 16. Today he wears the prestigious Real Madrid jersey.
To know more
The publication of Carnet n ° 161 devoted to the Charleroi-Brussels canal marks the culmination of an ambitious publication project that began three years ago. With a sustained and regular rhythm of one Carnet per year, the edition of this trilogy allows the reader to discover all the historical, technical and heritage aspects of these waterways. If you wish to acquire these publications, do not hesitate to contact 081 230 703 or [email protected] They are also on sale in many bookstores. Currently, the trilogy is on sale: € 12 for the three notebooks instead of € 18 (“Le canal de Charleroi à Bruxelles”, Carnet du patrimoine 161, “Le canal du Center à 1370 tonnes”, 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, relaxation sites, lodges and bed and breakfast. Many walks offer you to discover the villages, the forest, nature … Let yourself be surprised by this pretty town. The inclined plane and its panoramic elevators are currently closed for health reasons that are known to us. But many routes on foot or by bike pass through there, as well as along the canal of the historic center (Unesco heritage).