Brian Doucet

Urban Geographer

Charleroi, Belgium

With just over 200,000 inhabitants, Charleroi is the second largest city in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium. It lies in the Belgian 'Black Country' and was at the heart of the country's industrial revolution in the early 19th Century. Coal mining and steel production dominated this region until the 1960s. Since then, these heavy industries have all closed and the region has gone through a difficult process of deindustrialisation. The landscape is littered with abandoned factories, slag heaps from the old coal mines and empty homes and shops. Charleroi was voted Europ's most ugly city in a recent poll.