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Kluisbergen (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2022-02-27 by ivan sache
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Flag of Kluisbergen - Image by Filip van Laenen, 17 October 2001

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Presentation of Kluisbergen and its villages

The municipality of Kluisbergen (6,258 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,038 ha; municipal website) is located in the Flemish Ardennes, 20 km south-east of Kortrijk, on the border with West Flanders and Hainaut, and therefore on the linguistic border between Dutch and French. The border is marked by the Kluisberg / Mont de l'Enclus hill (141 m asl) and the Kluisbos wood (2/3 in Flanders and 1/3 in Wallonia), and there are two municipalities named after the hill, Kluisbergen in Flanders and Mont-de-l'Enclus in Wallonia. The municipality of Kluisbergen was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Berchem, Kwaremont, Ruien and Zulzeke.

Kluisbergen is the place of the legend of Liederieck / Liedericq. Around 620, a caravan led by Prince Salvaert, from Dijon, was attacked in the woods by Count Phinaert. Everybody was killed except Salvaert's wife, Ermengarde de Roussillon, who gave birth to a child. She could hide the child under a bush before being captured by Phinaert. The hermit who found the child called him Liederieck and raised him. There are several versions of the Liederieck's legend, who is reported to have moved to England and then came back to Flanders, where he founded the towns of Lille (the local giant is called Liedericq) and Bruges and was the root of the Counts of Flanders. One of his descenders, Liederieck II, settled in Harelbeke, where his statue still watches the main square.
The legend was popularized by writers such as Alexandre Dumas, Hendrik Conscience and Cécile Ameye. It has, however, some historical roots since Kluisbergen means the Hermitage's Mount (from kluis or enclos, "an enclosure") and several places listed in the legend are still existing, such as the Beste Beek (Sacred Fountain) located in Russignies. It was reported in 1148 that the place was settled by counterfelters led by an hermit; two Flemish lords coming back from the Crusade and spending the night in the hermitage watched the old hermit, who turned into a young man and disappeared through a trap door. They followed him and found the counterfelters; the lords warned the Count of Flanders and arrested the rascals, who were hung in the castle of Ghent. On 11 June 1724, the procession with St Hermes' shrine was attacked by the rascal known as the Egyptian. Around 1748, the priest of Amougies complained to the dean of Ronse that the hermits lured his flock and went overboard. Until the beginning of the 19th century, several bands of rascals were reported to scour the place. One of their famous leaders was Jean-Baptiste Lefèbvre, known as "Sans-Doigts" (Fingerless).
Kluisbergen is today a popular place for hiking, biking and riding; it is often visited by more than 10,000 on Sunday.

Berchem (643 ha) appeared as a domain in the 12th century and remained so until the French Revolution. It once included 17 villages; in the 14th century, it was made of the villages of Berchem, Etikhove, Kerkem, Kwaremont, Marke, Melden, Nukerke and Zulzeke. Berchem is today the administrative seat and trade center of the municipality of Kluisbergen.

Kwaremont (852 ha, lit., "the square mount") formed, together with Ruien and Zulzeke, a domain depending on the lords of Berchem. Gallo-Roman cemeteries with pottery and coins were found around the village. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Kwaremont has attracted several artists, therefore its nickname of Artists' Village. The paved roads climbing the Oud Kwaremont (2,200 m, 1,500 m paved, average slope 3-4% but 10% in the beginning) and the Paterberg (350m, maximum slope 23%) are two strategic places of the cyclist Tour of Flanders. In 1974, the Old Kwaremont road replaced the Kwaremont road, deemed too easy to climb, as the first "serious" hill in the race; the next year, it was the starting point of one of the most stunning of Eddy Mercx's victories. Kwaremont has a street named after the race, the Ronde Van Vlaanderenstraat, with a monument dedicated to the journalist from the Het Nieuwsblad Karel Van Wijnendaele (Karel Steyaert, 1882-1961), the founder of the race.

Ruien (1,006 ha, including 300 ha covered by the Kluisbos wood) belonged, together with the Kluisberg, to the dommain of Calmont / Callenberg. Excavations made on the Kluisberg yielded Prehistoric (an urn from the Hilversum culture, flints from the Age of Bronze) and Gallo-Roman artifacts. There was probably a Gallo-Roman way going through Ruien. The power plant of Ruien is the biggest "classic" plant of Belgium.

Zulzeke (562 ha) is the smallest component of Kluisbergen. The stone windmill Ten Hotond is built on the higest point of East Flanders (171 m asl).

Ivan Sache, 2 September 2007

Flag of Kluisbergen

The municipal flag of Kluisbergen is quartered black-white-yellow-blue.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag, adopted on 31 March 1987 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 9 May 1989 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 8 November 1989 in the Belgian official gazette .
The four parts of the flag symbolize the four components of the municipality, while the colours come from their arms (Berchem, black and white; Ruien, blue, yellow and white; Zulzeke, blue and yellow, Kwaremont did not have arms).
The coat of arms of Kluisbergen, "Per pale, 1. Azure a fess or cantonned with three crescents argent 2 and 1, 2. Sable a hunting horn argent garnished gules a chief or" uses the same colours.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 7 August 2007