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Zwalm (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)


Last modified: 2019-06-26 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Zwalm - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 6 November 2005

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Presentation of Zwalm and its villages

The municipality of Zwalm (in French, Zwalin; 7,835 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,382 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km north-east of Oudenaarde and 20 km south of Ghent. The municipality was formed in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Nederzwalm-Hermelgem (formed in 1850 by the merging of Nederzwalm and Hermelgem) and Munkzwalm (including Beerlegem, Dikkele, Hundelgem, Meilegem, Paulatem [in French, Paulaethem], Roborst, Rozebeke, Sint-Blasius-Boekel [Boucle-Saint-Blaise], Sint-Denijs-Boekel [Boucle-Saint-Denis] and Sint-Maria-Latem [Laethem-Sainte-Marie] since 1970).

The municipality of Zwalm is named after the meandering, picturesque river Zwalmbeek. The river has its source in the wood of Brakel, near the town of Flobecq. After 23 km, the Zwalmbeek flows into the Scheldt near Nederzwalm-Hermelgem. The hilly valley of Zwalmbeek is known as Little Switzerland.
Remains from the Roman and Frankish times were found in Hundelgem. In the Merovingian times, the main settlement must have been located in Beerlegem, where a big cemetery has been excavated; the artifacts found there are shown in the South-East Flanders Archeological Museum in Velzeke. In the Middle Ages, most of the domains were owned by abbeys, therefore the name of Munkzwalm (from munk, "a monk"). Most of the watermills on the Zwalmbeek belonged to the St. Bavo abbey in Ghent and to the abbey of Ename, whereas the St. Peter abbey in Ghent owned the chapel and farms of Wijlegen and the parish of Dikkele.

Munkzwalm, located on the railway Brussels-Kortrijk, is the administrative center of the municipality of Zwalm.
Nederzwalm and Hermelgem were merged in 1850 to form Nederzwalm-Hermelgem.
Rozebeke is one of the oldest pilgrimage places in the region. The village square and the neighborhood are the decor of the film Het verdrit van België (The Sorrow of the Belgians) by Hugo Claus.
Roborst is known for pear-shaped tower of the St. Denis' church.
Meilegem is one of the smallest villages in East Flanders.
Paulatem was indeed the smallest municipality in East Flanders.

Ivan Sache, 6 November 2005

Flag of Zwalm

The flag of Zwalm is blue with a thin red inner border and a thin blue outer border, and a yellow 12-pointed star surrounded by 12 five-pointed yellow stars.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag, adopted on 25 March 1980 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 3 September 1980 and published on 16 October 1980 in the Belgian official gazette.
The 12 smaller stars represent the 12 former municipalities merged into the municipality of Zwalm, itself represented by the central, bigger star. The colors might come from the municipal coat of arms.

The municipal coat of arms, "Quarterly, 1. Or a lion sable armed and langued gules a bordure engrailed of the same, 2. Gules three keys or 2 + 1, 3. Azure a lion argent with three bars gules, 4. A lion sable crowned armed and langued gules a bend gules over it, an escutcheon or five chevrons gules a disc of the same in base".

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 November 2005