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Heist-op-den-Berg (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Heist]

Municipal flag of Heist-op-den-Berg - Image by Filip van Laenen, 28 September 2001

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Presentation of Heist-op-den-Berg and its villages

The municipality of Heist-op-den-Berg (38,271 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 8,646 ha) is located in the south of the Province of Antwerp, on the border with Brabant. The municipality of Heist-op-den-Berg is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Heist-op-den-Berg (15,825 inh.; 2,893 ha), Booischot (6,234 inh.; 1,159 ha), Hallaar (3,064 inh.; 690 ha), Itegem (5,396 inh.; 1,662 ha), Schriek (4,686 inh.; 1,109 ha) and Wiekevorst.

Heist-op-den-Berg is located on 48-m high mount, as can be guessed from the name of the town ("op den Berg", lit. "on the mount"). The mount was formed one million year ago during the last Age of Ice. The mount has always been the seat of the power in Heist; the current town hall was built in 1844 on the mount, after years of sterile discussion on the place where to build it were solved by Petrus Vrancx' donation of his estate on the mount to house the new town hall. Heist, together with Hallaar and Booischhot, formed a feudal domain called Land ende Veijheid van Heist.
Booischot became an independent municipality in 1836. The town is split into two parts, Booischot proper and Pijpelheide, by the Lier-Aarschot railway.
Hallaar once nearly completely belonged to the famous Berthout family.
Itegem, located on the Grote Nete and once a river port, is probably the oldest component of the municipality of Heist-op-den-Berg, having already been mentioned in 976.
Schriek, mentioned for the first time in 1125, formed in the XIVth century with the hamlet of Grotloo the domain of Schriek and Grotloo, belonging to the Country of Mechelen and therefore to the Duchy of Brabant.
Wiekevorst belonged in the Middle Ages to Herentals and Herenthout. The barn of the Wimplehoeve farm is one of the biggest in Kempen (39 x 12 x 10 m).

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 July 2007

Municipal flag of Heist-op-den-Berg

The municipal flag of Heist-op-den-Berg is vertically divided blue-white-green.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 1 July 1980, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 11 December 1980 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 18 February 1981.
The colours are taken from the municipal arms.

As shown on the municipal website, the arms of Heist-op-den-Berg are "Azure a swan argent on a mount vert". The swan is the emblem of the town, used on the municipal arms and seal (since 420 years) and in the name of several local associations, such as the Swaneruiters rowing-club, the local history circle Die Swane, and of several buildings, such as the arts center Zwaneberg and the ice rink Die Swane.
In 1606, the writer John Baptist Gramaye, a famous historiographer of the Low Countries, already described the swan of the coat of arms of Heist; he claimed to know the origin of the seal but added it was not worth being mentioned! This origin was probably a legend that Gramaye did not swallow and did not want to spread thoughtlessly. Fortunately, the local historian Lodewijk Liekens claims that the swan, a symbol of purity and innocence would have been chosen as a reaction against the nickname of telaatkomer, latecomers, granted after the militia of Heist had arrived too late on an unspecified battle field. There is of course not the least historical evidence for all of this, but this is a nice story!

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 July 2007