At a glance the characteristic outline of the church of St. Julian welcomes visitors to the town. Through the centuries the attraction of the town has never been denied ....quite the opposite.
Maybe in the 17th century the Archdukes Albert & Isabelle, then Louis XIV successively contributed to the splendour of the town; today gigantic characters of another kind attract the tourists. Goliath and his wife are in fact our Giants, symbols of the Ducasse which is recognised by UNESCO on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The history of the town can be discovered at its various museums.
A visit to Ath shows you genuine folklore, feel the history in the stones at the foot of the Burbant Tower,appreciate the street shows or spend a moment of relaxation tasting a local beer.
Top things to do
The Giant's house
At the Giant’s House it is the festive season all year round. This Museum occupies a Louis XV style mansion and takes you on a captivating journey through the world of giants.
During the visit you use all your senses. You see how a giant is made, then further on you see how it is carried, the passing of the festival from one generation to another is recalled by several of the people involved. Giants also exist beyond our frontiers, in fact they can be found all over Europe. Several well illustrated documentaries tell you about them. The Giants’ House regularly holds temporary exhibitions on various themes.
Gallo Roman Museum
If the Gallo-Roman area was an object it could be a wooden spinning top, a weavers loom or a ‘mulsum’ for aperitif !
Friendly characters animate the location where two boats are moored ; one has a flat bottom, the other is like a dug-out canoe. These two boats were discovered in 1975 during an archaeological dig at Pommeroeul. The celtic style barge (chaland) is today regarded as one of the treasures of the ‘Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles’.
The Burbant Tower
In 1166 when Baudouin IV, Count of Hainaut, arrived at the confluence of the two Dendre rivers. He found wasteland. Very quickly he had a stone Keep built – the Burbant Tower. Over the years the tower became the nerve centre of a veritable castle. Today from the top of the keep visitors can see eight centuries of history.
The Stone Museum
The Stone Museum has found a home in the old quarry owner’s house. It shows the life of the stone-cutters in detail – works, tools, achievements, social life.
Almost 1,000 men worked at Maffle (Ath) before 1900 when the industry was flourishing. A look at the geology of the village shows the presence of the ‘blue stone’ (pierre bleue) which is known locally as ‘small granite’ (petit granit) Unfortunately the stone industry died out after 1960.
Here and there souvenirs of past activity can be found. The stone-cutters walk - 3.5 km - will reveal them to you.
Ath region still has two rural heritage treasures:
The Windmill at Moulbaix, called « La Marquise » built in 1747 and still grinding grain. A post mill, the whole mill pivots to make use of the wind. Also the tower mill at Ostiches (with a pivoting cap) which dates from 1789.
The Windmill at Ostiches was restored in 2000 and attracts many admirers on the first Sunday of July during the Mill Festival. On the programme: old-fashioned breadmaking, cart horse competition, carriage rides, blacksmiths demonstration ....
You can visit the Moulbaix Mill on Saturday afternoons. The white windmill at Ostiches is opened on Sunday afternoons from April to September.