Les Gueules Noires - the black faces: That’s the way the Walloons called their coal buddies. Italians, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Russians, Turks and of course Belgians labored in teams to feed the insatiable blast furnaces around Liege with coal. At the closing in 1980 Blegny mine was the oldest and last remaining mine in the region. Who descends here by cage, is able to follow almost the entire history of industrial mining in the underground galleries: from the often grueling working conditions of about 200 years ago to the automated extraction methods from the late 20th century. Aboveground the museum visitors can experience the past of the local production of coal almost as complete - thanks to infrared guided audio tours, lighting effects, animations, authentic reconstructions and an exciting media show that stages the origin of the coal. Visiting the coal sorting and washing halls completes the museum program. The surrounding area has much to offer. A walk on the stone heap, playgrounds, a petting zoo, a mini train or a boat trip to Liege offer plenty of variety for the whole family.
Liege was once known as the "Iron Foundry of Europe". This is consistent with the proud conviction of the Walloons, that they have spread the Industrial Revolution that came from England across the continent. Indeed, the region possessed large stocks of ore and coal. Shortly after 1800 the Liege region was transformed into a bustling mining area. Four of the Walloon coal mines - Bois-du-Luc, Bois du Cazier, Blegny Mine and Grand-Hornu - are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Among them Blegny mine represents the phase of industrialization, which lasted from approximately 1860 - 1960, in which electricity - and combustion engines were introduced into the production. But Blegny can look back at a much longer history. As early as the 16th Century monks of the nearby monastery of Val-Dieu started with the exploitation of coal deposits on the spot. Industrial mining began at the beginning of the 19th century and continued until the closing down in 1980. All together this makes Blegny a unique testimony of the Walloon and European industrial history.
The European context is reflected not in last place at the motley crew of workers. The need for energy of the blast furnaces around Liege was so immense, that the population of Wallonia was by far not sufficient to dig the amount of coal needed. Several waves of immigration were needed to provide the mines with sufficient manpower. In the 19th century they mainly came from Flanders and France. In the 20th century and especially in the interwar period, the radius of the origin countries widened: in Eastern Europe to Poland and Hungary, in the south to Italy. After shutting down the production, the former coal mine was converted into a tourist mine and museum. Today Blegny along with other industrial monuments belong to the regional industrial route "Route of Fire" (La route du feu).
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March and mid September to November:
Saturday, Sunday, public holiday 10am-5pm
April to mid September:
February to December groups by appointment
Saturday, Sunday, public holiday 11am-5pm
April to August:
February to December groups by appointment 9am-5pm
Road train excursion
Saturday, Sunday, public holiday at 1.30, 2.30, 3.30, 4.30pm
April to August:
daily at 1.30, 2.30, 3.30, 4.30pm