Charleroi is one of the bigger cities in Belgium, having a population of more than 200,000 people, and covering an area of more than 500 square miles. It is close to Brussels, and thanks to that fact, many visitors to Brussels often find it possible to make short dashes to Charleroi, to see what it has to offer. To be precise, the distance between this city and Brussels is just under 50 kilometers, with good and efficient public transport between the two cities. What makes it worthwhile to make a detour to Charleroi while visiting Brussels is the fact that Charleroi has some unique things to offer: in terms of things that visitors can see and in terms of things that visitors to it can have a chance to do.
There is archeological evidence to the fact that Charleroi is an area that has hosted populations of human beings since the prehistoric times. Apparently, the city is so strategic that, over the millennia, it has been almost continuously and often viciously fought over. Today, Charleroi stands as a grand city that is quite well planned and serviced.
Getting around Charleroi
Public transport in Charleroi, as in other towns and cities neighboring Brussels, is excellent. As a person visiting this city, you will find yourself having a choice between several modes of transport that you can use to get around.
There is, for one, the option of getting around Charleroi using a bus. This is thanks to the fact that the city (and its metropolitan areas) is served by bus lines.
The other mode of transport you can use to get around Charleroi is that of light rail. This means that you can get around Charleroi (and its outlying areas) by tram.
If you fancy it, and you have the money to pay for it, you can still take a taxi and have it take you around Charleroi. Taxi fares can be hefty for most people, but then, there are others to whom the taxi fares charged are but ‘loose change’.
You can also make an attempt at exploring Charleroi by foot. You need, however, to take note of the fact that this is a big city, covering more than 1,400 square kilometers. Thus going round Charleroi by foot (without taking motorized transport modes at any point) may be a very tall order indeed. The areas that host its major tourist attractions are, however and thankfully, quite close to each other, and you can therefore move from one to the next on foot.
Things to see and do in Charleroi
Your exploration of Charleroi may start with a visit to the Dampremy Street, which hosts the city’s historic area, and where the ancient historic relics coexist with contemporary reality side by side.
While in Charleroi, you will want to see its Belfry. This particular Belfry is actually not as ancient as many of those found in other Belgian cities. Its architecture, however, is in a class of its own, and its symbolism is even more striking. The said Belfry is integrated with the Charleroi town hall and it is quite an understatement to say that it is grand (standing as it does at above 70 meters in terms of height).
Another architectural masterpiece that is bound to make you marvel while in Charleroi if you take the time to visit it is the Maison Doree. Its façade (and what adorns it) is particularly remarkable, as is its history – it being a structure that went up in the late 19th century.
St. Christopher’s Basilica, built in the 1600s, is another sight you won’t want to miss while in Charleroi. It is one of those remarkable unearthly beautiful Baroque-style structures that really stand out.
It will also be a good idea to consider setting aside some time, to visit the Palace of Fine Arts (locally known as Palais des Beaux Arts)while visiting Charleroi.
You may also want to go shopping at places like the Galleria Inno or the Center Commercial Ville 2, to name but just two of the numerous shopping venues in Charleroi.