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Opwijk (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Opwijk]

Municipal flag of Opwijk - Image by Filip van Laenen, 31 October 2001

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Presentation of Opwijk

The municipality of Opwijk (12,393 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 1,969 ha) is located 20 km north-west of Brussels, on the border with (East) Flanders. The municipality of Opwijk is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Opwijk (1,740 ha) and Mazenzele (229 ha).

Opwijk emerged from a Frankish village (in Latin, vicus, later wijk) located on the eastern border of the today's municipality with Merchtem. The place was at the crossing of the old roads leading to the Scheldt passage to Dendermonde and to the Dender passage to Aalst.
Mazenzele (Masinsala) is of later, Merovingian origin, and was built on the old road linking Asse and Dendermonde. The two villages originally belonged to the pagus Bacbantensis (later the Duchy of Brabant).
In the IXth-Xth century, Opwijk was transferred into the Country of Dendermonde, depending of the County of Flanders, while Mazenzele was incorporated into the Country of Asse, part of Brabant. A new settlement was built in Opwijk around a borcht (a fort surrounded by canals and earthen walls) located on the place where the road to Dendermonde crossed the village's brook. The place was abandoned in the XII-XIIIth century for the trade center located on the paved road, by which a new church was built in 1410-1420.

In the XVIth century, Opwijk had 1,200 inhabitants and Mazenzele 150. The Religious Wars and the French Wars caused the decline of the village in the XVIIth century; in 1667-1669, black plague claimed 752 of the 1,700 inhabitants of Opwijk.
After the French Revolution, Opwijk and Mazenzele were incorporated in the Dijle Department, later the Province of Brabant. The villages were hit by the economic and food crisis (the latter caused by the potato late blight) in 1845-1850; out of the 3,400 villagers, 840 were considered as indigent and a dysentery epidemic killed 97. The situation improved after 1850.
After the First World War, the opening of the Brussels-Dendermonde and Aalst-Londerzeel opened up the villages, where a few industries were set up. The population doubled in the XXth century, with most inhabitants working in the region of Brussels.

Source: Heemkring Opwijk-Mazenzele website, text after Jan Meeussen

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2007

Municipal flag of Opwijk

The municipal flag of Opwijk is vertically divided blue-yellow.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 30 March 1992 and 19 April 1993, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 20 July 1993 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

According to Servais, the arms of Opwijk shows St. Paul, the patron saint on the village, in or on a field azure.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 September 2007