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Visit the machine room of hydraulic boat lift 3 in Strépy-Bracquegnies with a guide during the boat trip or with audio guides.
© voiesdeau.hainaut.be

Lifts of the Canal du Centre

Take a boat trip out on the historic Canal du Centre and discover these unique boat lifts, UNESCO-protected engineering works—a living reminder of the Centre Region's industrial heritage.

Experience navigation through a hundred year hydraulic lift, which raises boats about 17 metres using water as the only energy source. Learn about the history of their construction and understand why the four hydraulic lifts of the historic Canal du Centre form some of the greatest industrial monuments and offer a remarkably well-preserved example of an industrial landscape from the 19th century.

Of the eight locks built in the world at the beginning of the 20th century, the four lifts of the historic Canal du Centre are the only ones in the world that still remain in their original working condition. You'll also pass mobile bridges and visit a machine room to learn how the mechanisms work. This excursion includes a ride in a tourist train alongside the towpath.

Starting from the Funicular boat lift of Strépy-Thieu, you get a view to the contemporary waterwork during the cruise and can compare both engineering processes.

Take a boat trip out on the historic Canal du Centre classified with its hydraulic boat lifts as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1998. – © voiesdeau.hainaut.be
Take a boat trip out on the historic Canal du Centre classified with its hydraulic boat lifts as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1998. – © voiesdeau.hainaut.be

The Giant Boat Lift Of Strepy-Thieu

When you come and visit the Strépy-Thieu Funicular Lift, you don't just visit a building. You'll get the chance to see it from the inside, taking the lift on board a barge!

Come up to the 8th floor (100 metres up), and enjoy a half-hour film that will tell you all about this epic engineering project. A series of informative panels, models and interactive screens, and of course a view out over the impressive machine room, round out your visit. The windows of the cafeteria have views of the old and the new canal.

Opened for navigation in 2002, the boat lift of Strépy-Thieu is part of Belgian heritage and is an object of fascination for generations to come. With its 117 metre height and its 73.15 metres of compensation for differences in level, it was the largest boat lift in the world until 2016 when the boat lift of 3 Gorges opened in China, which you will also learn about.

You can complete the visit with the experience of crossing the funicular boatlift on board a barge and sailing into this concrete and steel giant for yourself as a boatman. It lasts around an hour, but the trip up the 73.15m lift itself is completed in an astonishing 7 minutes!

The Sloping Lock of Ronquières

The sloping lock of Ronquières is a must-see—not only for the lock itself, but for the magnificent view out over the region and the "One boat, one life" interactive tour, the only one of its kind. And of course, you'll get the opportunity to see the lock from the inside, on board a boat as it takes you across!

Once you've collected your tickets, take the panoramic lifts for a quick trip up to the glass-walled walkways and information boards. This is the perfect place to watch the barges and caissons go up and down the lock. Next, you'll get an audio headset at the start of the "One boat, one life" interactive tour, and an introduction to the unique life of the boatman. Finally, at the top of the tower, you'll get a breath-taking view of the lock and the surrounding region.

In use since 1968, the Sloping Lock of Ronquières always remains a technical marvel without equal. Indeed, this enormous work of art makes up for a difference in level of 68 metres between the upper reach and the lower reach of the 'new' Brussels-Charleroi canal.

Many World Heritage sites are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please check official websites for more information.

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Lifts of the Canal du Centre

Hours

Visits and excursions at the boat lifts from 1 April until the last Sunday of October.