The Grand Place and surrounding area
Houses with classic frontages look down onto Rebecq’s Grand Place. The Town Hall is located at the top of the square, to the left of the church. It was built in 1816. The Town Hall park is the site of the monument erected in 1938 to Ernest and Alfred Solvay. Born into a middle class family in Rebecq in the early 19th century, the two brothers invented the famous "Solvay process" and the sodium carbonate industry.
The Solvay brothers’ former family home is now a listed building. It is located close to the Grand Place, at number 8 Rue des Sauniers. The word “Sauniers” reflects the Solvay parents’ profession - salt merchants.
The neo-Roman church of Saint-Géry, with its 52-metre tower (top part of the spire) is located on Rebecq’s Grand Place, close to the Town Hall.
It was constructed between 1865 and 1868, under the supervision of the local architect Émile Coulon, to replace the existing 16th century religious building in the centre of the square which was not big enough to accommodate the congregation. Inside the church, the paintings, walls and columns have been completely renovated, restoring the building’s lines, drawings and colours to their original 19th century glory. The ceiling is decorated with frescos illustrating the apocalypse, created by the painter Charles-Henri Stiennon. A granite statue of Saint-Géry – erected to ward off foot and mouth disease (1567) – a white marble altar (1601) and the baptismal fonts (1599) add the finishing touches.
The Arenberg Mills
Since the Middle Ages, the Senne waterfalls in the centre of Rebecq have been used to grind cereals.
In 1973, the municipality purchased the mill complex, consisting of the Large Mill and the Small Mill, in order to save these monuments to industrial archaeology and create a museum complex.
The Large Mill
Located on the left bank of the river, in the first half of the 15th century the Large Mill with its two waterwheels was operated by millers appointed by the owners, the Lords of Enghein, who governed Rebecq. Between 1607 and 1608, it belonged to the Dukes of Arenberg. In the 19th century, they sold the mill to the Minne family from Austria, who expanded the buildings to create a factory for silk stockings. Its high chimney is still a landmark on the skyline at the waterfalls of Senne. The mill was then used as a grain store and to grind fodder for cattle. It remained in operation until 1964.
The Large Mill currently houses the machine room – impressive machinery powered by a waterwheel measuring 7.50 m in diameter, the porphyry museum – testimony to the entire region’s industrial past and present – and three storeys which are used all year round to hold exhibitions and other cultural events. It also houses Rebecq’s community library and tourist office.
The Small Mill
Constructed in the 18th century and powered by the River Senne, the Small Mill originally had a wooden wheel on the outside. In 1910, this wheel was replaced by a turbine from the former Quenast mill, which had burned down. The installation has four pairs of grinding wheels and a bolter. Thanks to a few passionate individuals, including a bakery teacher, the wheels of the Small Mill are turning once again. An old forge can also be visited on the same site. Demonstrations of traditional milling are organised in the Small Mill. Its impressive machinery, powered by the River Senne and still in working order, has been converted to show the steps involved in converting grain to flour. The annexes of the Small Mill, renovated 19th century buildings, include former stables. One of these annexes now accommodates the Beer House – a chance to discover the mysteries of the production of this famous beverage and to sample the flavours of the local beers.
The old hospital buildings are located opposite the Arenberg Mill, on the other side of the River Senne. Founded between 1290 and 1308 by Lady Marie de Rethel of Enghein, widow of Walter 1st Lord of Enghein, they feature 16th century constructions, some remarkable furnishings and a very beautiful gothic chapel.
For many years, the chapel was the destination of a pilgrimage dedicated to Saint-Erasmus, for those seeking a cure for intestinal illnesses. Unfortunately, many of the buildings on the site of the former Hospital were destroyed by a fire in 2003. Since then, the site has been waiting for restoration and reassignment of the area. It has been on the Walloon heritage protection list since April 2006 and a local association has been created to defend the site: les Amis de l’Hospice [Friends of the Hospice].