Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Bilzen - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 11 June 2005
The municipality and town (Stad) of Bilzen (30,173 inhabitants on 1 January 2007) is located 20 km north of Liège and 10 km west of Maastricht, on the river Demer, which is the border between the regions of Campine / Kempen and Hesbaye / Haspengouw. The municipality of Bilzen is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Bilzen, Beverst, Munsterbilzen, Waltwilder, Hoelbeek, Eigenbilzen, Mopertingen, Hees, Rosmeer, Martenslinde, Kleine-Spouwen, Grote-Spouwen and Rijkhoven.
In the Roman times, Bilzen was located on the way Tongeren-Nijmegen. The Merovingian domain of Belisia is the origin of the modern town, whose name appeared in 1050. In 1251, Bilzen was granted the title of Goede Stad van het graafschap Loon (Good Town of the County of Loon). The Prince-Bishop of Liège incorporated Bilzen to his Principality in 1366, maintaining the title of bonne ville (Good Town). In 1386, Bilzen was granted the Law of Liège and was allowed to build city walls. It was ruled by two municipal bans: the inner bans, following the Law of Liège, ruled the territory located inside the walls, whereas the outer ban, following the Law of Loon, ruled the territory located outside the walls. Under the Ancient Regime, Bilzen was the seat of a bailiwick including 22 villages.
The Dutch language seems to have emerged in Bilzen, especially in the St. Amor womens' abbey in Munsterbilzen, said to have been founded around 700 by Landrada, and the Alden Biesen commandery of the Teutonic Order in Rijkhoven. The oldest known books in Dutch language (Wachtendonkse Psalmen, Xth century; Tesi samanunga was edele unde scona (1130); and probably also Limburgse Aiol (c. 1230); and, first of all, Oudste Goederenregister van Alden Biesen (1280-1344)), are associated with these places. This old tradition is recalled by the Language Museum, housed in the town hall of Bilzen.
The cyclist Criterium of Bilzen was run from 1974 to 1992. All the races were won by Belgians, except the first one, won by the Brit Michael Wright. Among the famous winners are Walter Godefroot (1966 & 1973), Eddy Merckx (1970 & 1971), Roger de Vlaeminck (1972 & 1978), Freddy Maertens (1976), Rik van Linden (1977), Rudy Pevenage (1980) and Eric Vanderaerden (1984).
Ivan Sache, 11 June 2005
The municipal flag of Bilzen is horizontally divided yellow-red-green.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag and arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 16 March 1989, confirmed by Ministerial Decree on 6 June 1989, published on 8 November 1989 in the Belgian official gazette.
The colours of the flag come from the municipal arms. Yellow and red are the colours of the County of Loon, green is the colour of the tree on the municipal arms.
The municipal arms of Bilzen are "Per pale or five pallets gules (Loon), argent a tree vert".
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 11 June 2005