Last modified: 2008-03-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: plombieres | bleiberg | blieberg |
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Municipal flag of Plombières - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 November 2005
The municipality of Plombières (in German, Bleiberg; in Dutch, Blieberg; 9,517 inhabitants on 1 January 2004,
5,382 ha) is located north-east of Verviers, close to the borders with Germany and the Netherlands. The municipality of Plombières was made in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Gemmenich, Hombourg in German, Homburg), Montzen, Moresnet and Sippenaeken (in German, Sippenaachen). To solve an old rivalry between Gemmenich and Monzen, the new municipality was named after the village of Plombières.
Not a former municipality, the village of Plombières had no town hall: the new municipal administration settled in the former town hall of Montzen until a new town hall was built in Plombières in 2000.
Plombières is located in the Three Border's Country, the region where the borders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany converge. The Three Countries' Point (321 m) is the highest point of the Netherlands. The Baudouin Tower, located near the monument, allows to watch a wide panorama.
Most inhabitants of Plombières work in the neighbouring towns of Aachen, Eupen, Verviers and Liège or in the Dutch Limburg and can speak several languages, but they are very proud to speak a local language said to be close to Charlemagne's genuine language.
All the villages forming Plombières have a Merovingian origin. Moresnet (Marsana) and Gemmenich (Geminis) are mentioned in 888, Hombourg (Humbore) in 1060, Monzen (Munzhic) in 1075. Plombières is the translation into French of the Germanic word Blyberg (modern, Bleiberg), meaning "The Lead Mountain", known since 1437. Sippenaeken means "The Seven Sources". Moresnet is one of the three Moresnet. The Moresnet actually included in Plombières was known as Moresnet Français until 1830, then as Moresnet Belge. The Three Milestones Monument, located in the middle of the forest, symbolizes the Three Borders.
Plombières became strategic at the end of the XIXth century, when the
railway linking Belgium and Germany was built (1872). The customs
services were based in the village of Plombières. During the First
World War, the Germans built in 1916 the viaduct of Moresnet, linking
Aachen to Tongeren via Montzen; this line was required to transport
troops and ammunition to the Flemish front. A
strategic issue during the Second World War, the viaduct was destroyed two
times and rebuilt after the liberation. The Plombières line is still
the only direct railway link between the port of Antwerp and the
industrial basin of the Ruhr. After the opening of the European
borders, the border railway station and customs post of Plombières were
The region of Plombières was the place of violent fighting during the Battle of the Bulge (winter 1944-1945): the American military cemetary of Moresnet has 7,989 graves scattered over 23 ha.
The former lead industry in Plombières caused the formation of very specific ecosystems called haldes calaminaires, listed in the European inventory CORINE (Exceptional botanical and biogeographical interest). The local flora and fauna contains several endemic and endangered species. It seems that the site was partially destroyed by the municipal administration of Plombières in order to set up a municipal park in 1996.
The small hamlet of Völkerich proudly shows the family house of the French musician César Franck (1822-1890), born Belgian in Liège. Franck composed several pieces for the organ and other instruments (Prélude, choral et fugue, for the piano, 1885; Sonate pour piano et violon, 1887; Symphonie en ré mineur, 1889; Trois Chorals for the organ, 1890), in which he merged the French traditional style and the German aesthetics.
Sources: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 24 Nowember 2005
The municipal flag of Plombières, as communicated by the municipal
administration, is white with five thin green stripes.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag follows the proposal made by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community as Blanc chargé de cinq trangles vertes (trangle is the heraldic word for a very thin, horizontal stripe).
The flag can be considered as derived from the arms of the family van der Heyden di Belderbusch, lords of Montzen from 1648 to the French Revolution, granted in 1950 to the municipality of Montzen. The five stripes also recall the five former municipalities forming Plombières.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat, Santiago Dotor & Ivan Sache, 24 November 2005