Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: arlon | aarlen |
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Municipal flag of Arlon - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 June 2005
The municipality and town (Ville) of Arlon (26,548 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 12,029 hectares), located in the region of Belgian Lorraine (Lorraine belge), historically linked to Lower-Lorraine (Basse Lorraine), a.k.a. Lothier, is the capital of the Province of Luxembourg. The municipality of Arlon is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Arlon, Autelbas, Bonnert, Guirsch, Heinsch and Toernich.
The Celtic place called Are Launos was renamed by the Roman
colonists Orolaunum. The town developed under emperor Claudius
(41-54), and was located near the crossroads of the Reims-Trier
and Metz-Tongeren ways. Initially a
vicus (open town), Orolaunum was later an
oppidum(fortified city). The sources of the river Semois were
a shrine dedicated to Apollo and there were thermae in the town.
In the IVth century, the Merovingians built the St. Martin church, one of the earliest Christian churches in Belgium. Between the Vth and the VIIth centuries, the church had the rank of basilica. The church was destroyed in 1550 but its cemetary was used until 1830.
In the Xth century, the village of Autelbas developed a specific pottery style. This expensive earthenware was sold locally but also exported. There is today an archeological museum in Autelbas.
In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Arlon were allied to the Counts
of Limburg. In 1214, however, Count Waleran
of Arlon married Countess Ermesinde of
Luxembourg. Arlon remained associated with
Luxembourg until 1839. Ermesinde founded in 1250 the convent of
Clairefontaines, which was ruled by Bernardine nuns. The convent was
destroyed in 1794.
The castle of Barnick is a rare example of fortress built in a plain. It was probably built on the remains of a Carolingian villa. The castle belonged to the family of Autel from 1371 to the XVIth century. It was partially burned in 1983.
The town of Arlon was burned in 1424, 1563, 1569, 1660. It was looted by the troops of Duke d'Orléans (1542) and of Duke de Guise (1558, the Counts' castle being destroyed), the Dutch (1604), the Croats (1636), and again the French (1681). The French left Arlon in 1697 and the town was rebuilt. The St. Donat church is known for its frescos, probably painted by Johan Georg Weiser around 1740. The church keeps a fragment of the saint's hip as a venerated relic. Donat was a Roman soldier who preserved Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) from lightning. He is invoked to protect persons and goods against thunderstorms and lightning.
After the Belgian independence (1830), the definitive borders of the new Kingdom were fixed only in 1839. Arlon became the capital of the Belgian province of Luxembourg. In 1830, Arlon was a small town with less than 4,000 inhabitants. It rapidly developed out of the remains of the ancient city walls.
The gastronomic speciality of Arlon and its region is a beverage
called Maitrank (lit, May beverage). The Maitrank is
prepared by macerating a plant called aspérule odorante
(Asperula odorata L., family Rubiaceae) with oranges
into Mosel wine. The Maitrank festival is celebrated in Arlon
every last week-end of May.
In 1998, the Belgian Army opened a training center to urban fighting, in which they reconstituted a small town, which was called Aspérulange (-ange is a common suffix in local toponyms also found in French Lorraine).
The forest of Udange, located near Arlon, is the only primary (not planted by man) forest in Belgium.
Ivan Sache, 24 December 2003
The flag of Arlon is vertically divided white-blue, described by Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et
Divisé transversalement en deux, blanc à la hampe et bleu au large.
The flag is a simplification of the municipal arms, which are "Barruly of ten pieces argent and azure a lion gules".
According to Servais, the arms of Arlon were granted by Royal Decree on 24 November 1841. The oldest known seal of Arlon (1311) shows a lion. Later seals used the arms of Luxembourg. In 1841, the colour of the nails of the lion were changed from or to gules to distinguish the arms of Arlon from the arms of Luxembourg. The lion is therefore plain red.
Former municipal flag of Arlon, c. 1900 - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 June 2005
Nouveau Larousse Illustré, Dictionnaire Universel
Encyclopédique (7 volumes, published in Paris, 1898-1904) shows the flags of the main Belgian townw, then based on the traditional colours of the town.
The flag shown for Arlon is horizontally divided red-white-blue.
Pascal Vagnat, Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 18 May 2007