Grand Hornu

Useful Information

Location: Hornu. E19/42 exit St. Ghislain, towards Hornu, turn left onto RN51 towards Mons, turm right into Rue Sainte-Louise.
Open: All year Tue-Sun 19-18.
Closed 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (6-18) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free, Senior EUR 4, Student (18-26) EUR 4.
Classification: MineCoal Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: Audio Guides in Français - French Netherlands - Dutch English Deutsch - German Español - Spanish D=1 h.
Address: Grand-Hornu, Rue Sainte-Louise 82, B-7301 Hornu, Tel: +32-65-652121, Fax: +32-65-613897. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1778 mining started by Charles Godonnesche.
1810 after the death of the first owner the widow sells the mine to Henri De Gorge.
1814 Sainte-Eugénie pit reaches profitable seam.
1816 beginning of construction of miners estate.
1827 building of the machine-making workshop.
1831 workshop starts to make pumps, ventilation, trolleys, rails, and more.
1832 Henri De Gorge dies in a cholera epidemic.
1954 mine closed.
1971 start of restoration.
1989 purchased by the Province of Hainaut.
2012 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The La Louvière Basin runs east-west, to the west the Mons Basin follows, to the east the Charleroi Basin. They are bordered by the Brabant Massif in the north and the Diannt Fold & Thrust Belt in the south. Those basins are composed of sedimentary rocks which were deposited during the Mesozoic, on the surface there are Cretaceous rocks, below Carbon sediments with coal seams. The basins are the main coal areas of Belgium.


Grand-Hornu is former coal mine, but actually it is not primarly known for its mining history, but for the architecture which was created for the needs of the mine and the miners living here. The industrial mining complex was built by Henri De Gorge between 1810 and 1830 in the Neo-classical style. It includes workshops, offices, a miners estate with 440 houses and the administrators' residence called Chateau Degorge (De Gorge Castle) after his owner. So while the site itself is a part of the industrial revolution it is nowadays used as a mining museum, for temporary exhibition and for modern art. It houses the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC).

The mine was started by Charles Godonnesche in 1778. At this time Henri De Gorge is only four years old. But when the first owner dies in 1810, his widow sells the mine to Henri De Gorge for 212,000 francs. Annual coal production is only 10.000 tons, but De Gorge realised the major advantage of this mine: it is located close to an important transport interchange, which creates both, demand and a means of transport. To increase the production he starts to dig new pits, searching for bigger seams. But the first pits were failures, and he had to borrow money. Finally, in 1814 with the fifth pit, Sainte-Eugénie, he found a productive seam which started his success.

But at first De Gorge needed a huge workforce. In order to draw people to this place he offered his workers a unique chance, a housing estate of unimaginable comfort for the period. His investments and ideas worked well and when he died in 1832 as victim of a cholera epidemic his colliery produced 120,000 tons per year and employed some 1,500 people.

De Gorge had no children, after his death the mine was managed by his widow, Eugénie Legrand. She passed on to her nephews who formed a trading company. The mine continued to produce profitable for more than century until it was finally closed of political reasons by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1956.