Bois Du Cazier, scene of the 1956 Marcinelle mine disaster.
On one of the too many rainy days in Belgium, it was mid July and it had been raining for the past 365 days :-) we had to switch plans from a hiking trip in the Ardennes which risked to turn into an unwanted mud bath spa experience to a more sheltered visit. The choice fell on the Bois Du Cazier site, scene of the 1956 Marcinelle mine disaster. And we have no regrets. From the moment we entered we were pleasantly surprised by the very helpful and enthusiastic attitude of the staff who gave us a short introduction about the layout of the site and the use of the audio-guide. The site itself is small but extraordinarily well restored. The audio-guide took us through the dramatic events of the disaster but also gave us an idea of the extremely harsh living and working conditions of Belgian labourers and of those first, mostly Italian, "guest-workers" in Belgium merely 50 years ago. Should give some perspective to us spoiled but perpetually whining baby boomer brats :-) Well done.
Although they were not saved by the bell, each year, on 8 August, the bronze bell sounds 262 times to commemorate the victims who died in the mine disaster, followed by 12 more times for the number of nationalities.