Last modified: 2017-02-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Opglabbeek - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 August 2005
The municipality of Opglabbeek (9,718 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,501 ha; municipal website) is located in north-eastern Limburg, 10 km north-east of Genk and 15 km of the border with the Netherlands. The municicpality of Opglabbeek was established in 1977 as the merger of the former municipalities of Opglabbeek, Louwel and Nieuwe Kempen.
The name of Opglabbeek comes from the Dutch words op ("near"), glad ("clear"), and beek ("a brook"). Ancient names of the village are Glatbeke (1219 and 1224), Gladebeke (1239), Opglabbeke (1284), Ghelabbeck (1549), Opgelabbeek (1565), Opgelabeeck (1677) and Opglaebbeck (1722).
In the past, the parishes of Opglabbeek and Neerglabbeek belonged to
the Decanate of Maaseik, in the Principality of Liège. Opglabbeek is dedicated to St. Lambert, Bishop of Maastricht and Tongeren in 670. The St. Hubert's chapel in Neerglabbeek was ancillary to the church of Opglabbeek. Both were owned by the Counts of Loon.
Count Louis II (d. 1218) bequeathed the church and the chapel, along with their dependencies, to the Norbertine abbey of Averbode, founded in 1135 by the Counts of Loon. The transfer was chartered in 1219 by Louis' brother and successor, Arnold III (d. 1221).
Incorporated in 1366 into the Principality of Liège. the County of Loon was ran by the drossard (official representative of the Prince-Bishop) of Stokkem. From the Eighty Year's War (1568-1648) to the French Revolution, the former County of Loon was under nearly permanent occupation by foreign troops. The first fortifications in Opglabbeek date back to this period. They were mostly intended to protect the town from the bands that scoured the region. The civic guard (schutterijen), a kind of municipal police, also dates from this period. After the Treaty of Munster (1648), the region was occupied by Charles IV of Lorraine. A bloody fighting between Charles' troops and the Boerenkrijgers (lit. farmer-warriors) took place in December 1648 near Meeuwen, during which 27 inhabitants of Opglabbeek were killed. Peace was reestablished for a short period but war resumed in 1672. The English General John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, who commanded the Austrian, English and Dutch troops allied against France, is still remembered in the local folklore as Malbroek.
Coal mines were established in Opglabbeek in the beginning of the 20th century, which transormed the village in a typical miners' village. Closed in the 1960s, the mines were replaced by new industrial activities. Opglabbeek is today the hub for the parts business of the Swedish company Scania (commercial vehicles); in 2003, 3.4 millions orders were handled there.
The watermill powered by brook Bosbeek in Louwel was mentioned for
the first time in 1511 as an oil mill. Destroyed during the
Dutch War (1672-1679), the mill was rebuilt in 1685 and transformed in a
restaurant in 1995.
The Blackberry Festival (Brambierfeesten) takes place in Opglabbeek on the second Sunday of September. The local speciality is a blackberry pie called broambiervlaai.
The Theater in the Saddle (Theater in het Zadel) festival, a cyclist rally with street theater and gastronomy performances, takes place on the last Sunday of August in the municipalities of As, Opglabbeek, Zutendaal and Genk.
Ivan Sache, 16 August 2005
The municipal flag of Opglabbeek is white with a black diagonal raguly
stripe bordered by two thin blue wavy lines.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag, adopted by the Municipal Council on 15 November 1977 and again on 3 November 1992, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 6 October 1992 by the Government of Flanders and published on 21 June 1994 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, in use since 1901, adopted by the Municipal Council on 20 December 1908, and prescribed by a Royal Decree signed on 23 August 1909 and published on 9 September 1909 in the
Belgian official gazette. The modern description of the arms, adopted on 14 July 1993 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 13 October 1993 by the Government of Flanders and published on 21 June 1994 in the Belgian official gazette.
The arms are described as "Argent a bend raguly sable surrounded by two bends wavy azure". They are based on the seal used by the municipal magistrates in the middle of the 17th century. The origin of the colours and chargesof the arms is unknown.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 August 2005