The Ascenseur Strépy Thieu or Strépy-Thieu boat lift is one of the most incredible engineering masterpieces located nearby Mons. If you’re looking for something unique to do during your stay at Mons’s four star hotel, the Strépy-Thieu boat lift is surely worth a visit.

What is the Ascenseur Strépy Thieu?

The Ascenseur Strépy Thieu is a boat lift used to aid boats traveling through the Canal du Centre. The canal connects the Meuse River and the Scheldt River. For boats to continue to the next waterway, the impressive structure must lift (or lower) the ships a staggering 73 meters between the upstream and the downstream.

When it was first completed in 2002, the Ascenseur Strépy Thieu was the tallest boat lift in the world. The local municipality promotes the boatlift as a tourist destination that allows visitors experience the lift from afar or ride on it via a boat tour.

How does it work?

The current Ascenseur Strépy Thieu lift is the second solution for boats to navigate the canal after increased river traffic and a change in boat regulations in Europe.

In the past, ships traveling along the canal were services by a two lock system which consisted of four locks. The locks were used from 1888 to 1919. The former lock system was sufficient for older ships during the period that weighed up to 300 tonnes. While the locks are no longer in use, they have been preserved as part of history and recognized by UNESCO World Heritage.

During the 1960s, the European standard for barge traffic increased. With larger ships needing support, a new replacement lock system for the canal was needed.

The Ascenseur Strépy Thieu was built from 1982-2002 and cost approximately €160 million. A simpler model than the four lock system, it now allows ships to complete the elevation sequence within seven minutes.

The boat lift is built from two independent counterweighted troughs which hold either the ship or to fill with water. There are a total of 112 suspension cables and 32 control cables for lifting and lowers. The boat lift is powered by four electric motors for turning the pulleys.

Visiting Ascenseur Strépy Thieu

The Ascenseur Strépy Thieu is promoted as a tourist attraction by the local Hainaut government to witness the technological and engineering wonder. Many people are impressed by the size of the towering structure, while others look forward to learning about the inner workings of the operation.

Located Le Rœulx, Hainaut, Belgium, Ascenseur Strépy Thieu is just 20-minutes away from Mons. There is a visitors center that welcomes guests and provides information about the experience. There are a couple of ways for viewing the boat lift in action.

Enter inside to view the boatlift from the viewing gallery on the building’s 5th floor. There is also an exhibition on the 8th floor which includes a video and information about how the lift works and its history. There is a small fee for entering.

For a more immersive experience, take one of the boat ride tours that will allow you to ride on the lift while on a boat. You can buy a pedestrian ticket for a one-way ride on the lift for only €5.50.

Make sure to visit this unique attraction during your stay at our hotel in Mons’ centre.