Charleroi city hall infil - September 2002
 A wonderful group expo to Charleroi. We found and walked the famous deserted metro, but we also had a small adventure right at the beginning. We really must go back some time. There is still so much to discover.
Charleroi is a complex, winding city. It took us some time to find the central parking lot. Oh the blessings of the Euro! We could put a coin in the parking meter without changing.
Place du Manege
I was in urgent need of two things. 1: a map, 2: a toilet. In that order. Exploration is impossible without a good map of the territory. So we entered the city hall. There must be a map somewhere (and possibly a toilet).
A beautiful building with a tall spire. Only much later did we realize that this was the back entrance. It looked posh enough to be the front entrance!
Just inside was the tourist office. But a big dissappointment - only a lousy tourist map of the highlights of the city. It showed the metro alright, but not the disused parts.
We found a door leading down these stairs. That looked promising.

And once down the stairs these underground passages spread to both sides. Notice the beautiful antique tilework and the antiquated folding chairs.

A semi used, semi-forgotten place that no one cared about. We went left first ...
And on that end we found the long awaited toilet. But wait - what a disappointment - all the doors were locked!

We were not the first ones who tried to misuse the municipal facilities.

So straining our bladders and walking cross-legged we explored the right turn. This disappeared in the distance and behind the curve we saw ...
... the most beautiful "access forbidden" sign that I met in my whole urban exploration career. Hand-painted and ancient.

We were also warned of "mortal danger" behind the door of a utility closet, and mysterious Magritte-like artworks in crates (this is Belgium, the land of Magritte).
Finally on our way out we discovered this sign on the glass door that led to the cellar. Ah, now it was clear that we shouldn't have been there at all.

But the situation was not so strict - we even met a city hall employee on the stairs down to the cellar. I was filming, so I already made up a frantic excuse of "We're architecture students and we're admiring the building." - But he simply ignored us.
But even the public spaces of the city hall were wonderful to look at. Look at that nice marble, and the art-deco design of glass and steel.

Then we split. I walked around the whole quarter looking for maps. These were very hard to find, not a single bookshop in the whole area. It was not the richest quarter - with a lot of immigrant shops.

The others went to look for food and drink.
Here's the group coming towards the cameraman.
Place Charles II
Now that we had a map we could determine where to go - at least in theory. In practice the unused parts were not indicated on the city map.
So a heated discussion started. 
I think it is here somewhere...
No, maybe it is here....
Refreshed by coffee and sandwiches we set off for the renowned deserted metro track of Charleroi.

We only had one day. Further exploration of the city hall will have to wait until the next visit. And we were so close, its wall is here on the left.

Rue du Dauphin
By following where the blue metro-line stopped on the map we found station Chatelet (?).

It was easily accessible here but :

- A camera crew was filming a nondescript house
- A policeman was looking around the area

And when these left a maintenance crew arrived and drove through the gate (see above) and started doing something on the tracks.
So we had to move to the next station - Chet. Here we could climb the fence but someone was mowing the lawn on the other side of the road. We were out of luck, definitely.

So we walked towards the other side of the road and found a nice hole under the fence.

I was a chicken and went in last...
We had a long and interesting walk along many metro stations, but that's stuff for a whole new story ...
Strange places
Deserted Buildings
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