La Louvière is a city in the Walloon region of Belgium, which has risen from the ashes of its post-industrial past – when it was one of the coal mining centres of the country – to stake a claim as a cultural and artistic hub. Although it may lack the well preserved medieval centre of many Belgian cities it has an appeal of its own and is often appreciated from the vantage point of one of the boats which can be hired to sail along the canal linking it to the city of Mons.
The history of La Louviere is rich in mythology and folklore. The legend, similar to that around the birth of the city of Rome, states that the city was originally founded by a child which had been raised by a she-wolf. The origin of this story probably lies in the fact that the region was originally covered in dense woodland which was known to be populated by wolves. Indeed, the original name for the wider region was Menaulu, which is derived from the Old French word for ‘wolf's lair’.
The name La Louiviere itself dates back to the 13th century, which is also when coal was first discovered in the area. The infrastructure needed to ship this coal out of the city didn’t arrive until the 19th century, however, when the construction of railways, canals and roads led to the city becoming one of the largest and most important in this part of Belgium.