Arlon is the capital of the southernmost Belgian province of Luxembourg. The town counts approximately 30,000 inhabitants and is often seen as the Belgian gate to the country of Luxembourg. Together with Tongeren and Tournai it is one of the oldest cities in Belgium.
- I Travel to Arlon
- II Getting around Arlon
- III Things to see and do in Arlon
- IV Where to stay in Arlon
Arlon is one of those Belgian towns with very long, rich, inspiring and interesting histories. Historians tell us that Arlon was there, long before the Roman Empire conquests. This town, which is to be found in the Luxembourg province right on the main railway line that connects Brussels to Luxembourg has survived and thrived over the millennia, though its population has not really grown exponentially.
As at the end of 2011 for instance, the population stood at just above 28,000 people. It is thus one of those towns that can’t exactly be described as bustling. This is important for the tourist, as the ‘bustling’ towns and cities tend to have a scenario where the tourists and the residents have to compete for space. Talking of space, it is also worth noting that Arlon is relatively small in size and most of its tourist attractions are within a relatively small (almost compact) geographical area. Thus, sightseeing in Arlon shouldn’t be too much of a chore. Some of the sights in Arlon are unique and time expended visiting this town will definitely be time well spent.
Travel to Arlon
Travel by train to Arlon
Arlon is by train fairly easy accessible from the larger Belgian cities of Brussels, Liège and Namur. From the central station of Brussels, the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. From Namur, Arlon is 1 hour and 40 minutes away. In the other direction it is only 20 minutes away from the city of Luxembourg in the namesake country.
Travel by car to Arlon
Arlon is located right next to the E25 highway between Liège and the city of Luxembourg. When arriving from Namur or Liège it is advisable to get off at the Arlon exit. When arriving from Luxembourg it is more convenient to get off at the Longwy exit already.
Getting around Arlon
As we mentioned earlier, Arlon is located on the main railway line that connects Luxembourg to Brussels. This means that you can get to this town using any one of the express trains that ply the route, these being trains that connect Belgium to other European nations.
There is the option of getting around Arlon by bus. There are more than 15 bus routes that originate from Arlon, go via Arlon or terminate at Arlon. Many of these pass through the further flung parts of Arlon, and they can therefore help you get around the town as well.
You should also be able to get around Arlon by taxi. The taxis here mostly charge fixed prices and as is the case with most of the European Union countries, services like those pertaining to taxi transport can be quite costly.
Getting around Arlon by foot is really an option too. After all, Arlon is not particularly big, especially if your focus is on the areas with tourist attractions (as opposed to the upcoming far-flung residential and business areas). So you can get around by foot, and chances are that your experience will be much richer if you set aside enough time, and decide to take things slowly and leisurely, by exploring Arlon on foot.
Things to see and do in Arlon
Arlon is home to the some of the most visible remnants of one of the defensive walls that ancients used to build for self-defense purposes. Referred to as the Gallo-Roman wall, this is definitely a sight to behold while touring this historically rich town. You will admire the design of the walls, their joinery (the manner in which the materials used to build them were put together), and the fact that they, or at least fragments of them, have survived to this age.
There are two remarkable museums that you should make an effort to visit while in Arlon. One of those is the local archeological museum, which has artifacts from as far back as the times of the Roman conquest, and others that actually predate that conquest. The other one is the Gaspar Museum, which is essentially an art museum, with exquisite displays of paintings, works of religious art, as well as amazing furniture displays standing side by side with the best of pottery and other ceramic products.
Though a sad place, the local Jewish cemetery is a site worth visiting. It is full of grandeur, and within a short while, you will discover that it was not really meant to be a place for mourning, but rather, a place for celebrating the lives of those buried there.
Like every other historical Belgian city, Arlon has an ancient church which is really an architectural marvel. It is known as Saint Donat’s church, and you will be amazed to learn that the site where it stands has more historical significance: that being where an ancient Capuchin monastery stood, and also a site where a castle once stood.
St. Donat’s Church
This church is situated on the central hill of the town, La Kippchen, that also by the Gallo-Roman people was used as a centre of habitation and defense. In the 11th century a stronghold was built on this hill, which later got destroyed by the French in 1558. Between 1621 and 1626 the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin built their abbey and church on the ruins of the stronghold. From the church tower you can have an undisturbed view on Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The carillon every hour plays Zu Arel op der Knippchen, a traditional song of the Arlon region and the officious hymn of the Belgian province of Luxembourg.
Church of Saint-Martin
This church was built in order of Belgian king Leopold II between 1907 and 1914 in neo-Gothic style and was consecrated in 1937. Inside the church the stained glass windows stand out, especially the large rose window. The tower is 97 meters high and makes it the highest church of Wallonia and guarantees the church also the seventh spot in the list of the 10 highest churches of Belgium.
Sacred Heart Church
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Arlon is a Catholic Romanesque-Byzantine church. It was built at the end of the 19th century and became a parish church at the end of the 20th century.
Synagogue – Rue de la Synagogue
The Synagogue of Arlon is the oldest one in Belgium and was built in 1863-1865 in neo-Roman style for the Jewish community which at that time counted 150 people. Services are rare since almost all Jewish people have left Arlon.
One of the finest archeological museums in the country. The museum displays a large collection of archeological finds from the province of Luxembourg. It is known for its Gallo-Roman section. Its collection of Roman sculptures and Merovingian funerary art is one of the best in the world.
Where to stay in Arlon
There are no youth hostels in Arlon. The nearest youth hostels can be found in Bouillon and the city of Luxembourg.
European Union Borders / Schengen to Shut due to Coronavirus Covid-19
The European Union’s external borders will be closed to non-essential travel for 30 days as of Tuesday to fight the spread of the coronavirus, while France is following Italy and Spain in imposing a nationwide lockdown for at least 15 days.
In an address to the nation Monday night, President Emmanuel Macron announced France was at war against COVID-19. He announced new measures both within France and across the EU to contain its spread.
Macron said as of midday Tuesday, the EU and Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone borders would be shut for 30 days for all but essential travel. Earlier in the day, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she had made the recommendation to the 27-member bloc.
Macron also announced a minimum 15-day lockdown across France and its territories. People must drastically limit their movement outside their homes to essential work, errands and health services also as of Tuesday midday. Getting together with friends and non-household family members is forbidden, and violators risk punishment.
The new restrictions come amid surging numbers of coronavirus cases here — and as some hospitals increasingly struggle to cope with an overload of sick patients, especially in the eastern part of the country.
Macron also said the second round of local elections would be postponed, along with a series of unpopular reforms his government has pushed through in recent months. He announced measures to support businesses hard hit by the coronavirus, including more than $335 billion in tax and other relief.
Belgium Significantly Tightened Corona Measures
Infection numbers in Belgium are increasing strongly again and the government has announced stricter contact restrictions to prevent another lockdown.
As of Wednesday, the Belgians may only meet a maximum of five people privately with whom they do not live together, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said yesterday. Until now, private meetings with up to 15 people were allowed.
In addition, a night curfew was imposed in Antwerp and residents may no longer leave their houses and apartments between 23:30 and 06:00. All bars and restaurants in the port city have to close at 11 p.m. Contact sports are prohibited and all team sports for adults. Home office for companies in Antwerp is mandatory if the employer allows it.
In the rest of the country, public events in closed rooms are limited to 100 people and if you want to go shopping, you have to do it alone and only within a 30 minutes time-frame.
Wilmès was “very concerned” about the recent increase in infection rates. According to their information, the new rules will initially apply for four weeks and aim to prevent national curfews within Belgium.
According to the authorities, an average of 279 Belgians were infected per day last week, compared to 163 per day the previous week. As of Monday, more than 66,000 corona cases and 9,821 deaths were recorded in Belgium.
Mons Coronavirus Covid-19 Update – Cases Quarantine Deaths Stats
Mons in Belgium is probably one of the first places in Europe that were inhabited by human beings: with archeological evidence suggesting that there were people here as early as in the Neolithic period.
Mons (Dutch: Bergen, not to be confused with the namesake city in Norway) is the capital of the Belgian province of Hainaut, in the region of Wallonia. The town is a worthy place to base yourself for a multi-day exploration of the Hainaut region.
It is home to some of the most amazing historic buildings from the middle ages that you can find anywhere in the world. It is a place where you can see how human development has been over the years: with ancient buildings standing side by side with modern buildings. With a population of just under 100,000 people, Mons is big enough to be lively, yet at the same time, small enough to be termed as ‘cute’ in the realest sense of the word.
Mons was the European Capital of Culture in 2015, together with Plzeň in the Czech Republic.
- Brussels Airport
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Cheap Flights to Brussels
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The train station is walking distance west of the historic centre. There are regular train links with Brussels, Charleroi, Tournai, all nodes in the Belgian train network. The national railway company of Belgium is called SNCB in French.
Take the Mons exit from the E19/E42
Getting around Mons
Mons is one of the few places where you can find absolutely free (zero-fare) urban buses. Yes, you heard it right: in Mons, you just have to jump onto any bus and you won’t have to pay a cent, for a trip within the city center. Take note though, that it is only the short distance buses, doing the ‘town service’ within the city center (the ones that are painted white) that are for free. The yellow ones, doing longer distances, demand fares.
There is also the option of using the train. The train will, however, only get you to Mons and around a few places in Mons.
Further on is the option of hiring a car, and using it to get around Mons. This is not a very clever move, because for one, Mons is a smallish city: the sort of city that doesn’t quite justify being explored on a car. More importantly though, you will come to realize that there are places where cars are discouraged from going in Mons, and most of those are actually the sorts of places that would be of most interest to you as a person looking to savor the awesome sights Mons has to offer.
Being a small city, Mons can be quite extensively explored by foot, and this is indeed a worthwhile adventure. The cobbled streets you will be doing most of the walking on are just amazing.
If you are a keen observer, you will notice, as you try to get around Mons, that many of the streets that encompass the city are actually built where the fortifying walls of the city once stood. The experience of being there is just surreal, as are the sights you come across.
Things to do and see in Mons
In order to take in as much of what Mons has to offer as possible, it makes sense to start your exploration of the city at the main square – located in the old city. While in the square, you will probably feel as if you have been taken back to another age: thanks to the nature of the buildings you will be see, the cobbled streets and so much more. This is also a place where you can do a bit of dining (as there are many fine restaurants) and a bit of shopping.
The Mons city hall is definitely a sight to behold, and a historical monument in its own right.
The Mayor’s Garden (Le Jardin du Maieur) is another interesting sight, with its remarkable fountain.
Towering at more than 80 meters, the Mons Belfry (built using the Baroque style) is a feature that will leave you awed.
You will also want to make a stopover at the Guardhouse Monkey, and perhaps even have a chance to make a wish upon it (it being, supposedly, a feature that was installed, hundreds of years ago, to bring good luck to the residents of Mons).
While in Mons, you may also consider visiting the Spanish House, the Royal Conservatory and St Waltrude Collegiate Church. All of these are amazing from an architectural and historical point of view.
- The Ducasse de Mons of Doudou is the name of a week-long series of festivities or Ducasse, which originates from the 14th century and takes place every year on Trinity Sunday. Highlights include:
- The entrusting of the reliquary of Saint Waltrude to the mayor of the city on the eve of the procession.
- The placement of the reliquary on the Car d’Or (golden carriage), before it is carried in the city streets in a colourful procession that counts more than a thousand costumed participants.
- The lifting of the Car d’Or on a paved area near the church of Saint Waltrude; tradition holds that this operation must be successful for the city to prosper.
- The Lumeçon fight, where Saint George confronts the dragon. The fight lasts for about half an hour, accompanied by the rhythmic “Doudou” music. The tradition of the processional dragon is listed among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Where to stay in Mons
- The historic town of Nimy is a few kilometers to the north up the N6.
- The Grand-Large Marina is close to the IMAGIPARK amusement park, and is a good place to start a canal tour of the local waterways.
- The MAC’s in Grand-Hornu (via TEC Bus lines 7 and 9) is a beautiful museum in a superb historic industrial coal site. Visit also the places near Grand-Hornu where Vincent Van Gogh lived.
- Cambron-Casteau — home to Pairi Daiza, a popular animal park north of Mons on the way to Ath.
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