Among the many pieces of elaborate historical architecture and decoration in the scenic city of Mons, the so-called Guardhouse Monkey may be the most mysterious.
Located just outside the entrance of the Mons city hall, the small metal simian has been a fixture of the city for several centuries, yet no one is quite sure where the little rascal came from, although there are a number of theories. It may have been a blacksmith’s “masterpiece,” literally a test of skill that would grant the craftsman the title of master blacksmith. It has also been posited that the monkey was once a pillory, where criminals would be taken to be publicly shamed. Although given the small stature of the piece it was likely that this was such a site specifically for wayward children. Still others have theorized that the statue was once part of a tavern sign that has long since been lost.
Despite its murky origins, the iron animal continues to be a popular public fixture. Locals insist that rubbing the monkey’s head will provide good luck and possibly even grant wishes. This custom is so prevalent that the metal on the Guardhouse Monkey’s head has been polished to a shine over centuries of passersby looking to make a wish on something more reliable than just a monkey’s paw.