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Zaventem (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Zaventem

The municipality of Zaventem (29,034 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,762 ha) is located just east of the Region of Brussels Capital. The municipality of Zaventem is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Zaventem, Nossegem, Sint-Stevens-Woluve (in French, Woluve-Saint-Etienne) and Sterrebeek.

Zaventam is mostly known as the place of the Brussels National Airport. The Brussels Airport traces back to the airfield and zeppelin hangar built by the Germans on the municipal territories of Haren and Evere.
After the liberation, the grounds set up by the Germans were used by the Belgian Air Force, that kept the hangar until 1923 to house the planes abandoned by the Germans. Fond of aviation, King Albert I promoted the development of the airfield, which was used jointly by military (Evere part) and civil (Haren part) aircrafts: the first Belgian civil flight, Brussels (Haren) - London - Paris - Brussels (Haren), was completed in seven hours and an half on 7 April 1919. A new terminal was built for the SABENA national career in 1923; in 1925, one week after having crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh was welcomed in Haren by King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth. Attracting more and more traffic and more and more foreign carriers, the airfield of Haren, in spite of having been regularly modernized, was deemed obsolete. The German invasion of 1940 and the seizure of the Haren airfield stopped for a while the modernization plans.

The Germans built a brand new airfield in Melsbroek, not far from the reserve airfield of the Belgian Air Force in Steenokkerzeel. In March 1943, the Luftwaffe could use three concrete runways, which were reused after the 3 September 1944 by the allied air forces. After the liberation, most of the Belgian civil traffic was transferred to Melsbroek, while the maintenance of the SABENA airplanes remained at Haren until the 1950s. The civil airport of Melsbroek was inaugurated by the Regent on 20 July 1948. On 15 May 1955, young King Baudouin inuagurated the railway line linking the center of Brussels to Melsbroek and took off for Congo; Brussels was then one of the few towns in the world with such an integration between railway and air transportation, with a registration terminal in the railway central station.

The Universal Exhibition planned at Brussels in 1958 caused the end of Melsbroek, deemed too small. In 1956, the Minister of Transportation, Edward Anseele, decided the building of a new airport, which was completed on 30 May 1958. The new airport was designed by three architects, Maxime Brunfuat, Géo Bontinck and Joseph Moutschen, from Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, respectively, a choice aimed at "keeping the church in the middle of Belgium". The Zaventem airport was increased in December 1955 to welcome the Boeing 707B aircrafts. On 15 February 1961, a 707B operated by SABENA crashed in Zaventem, killing 73; this was the only accident that ever happened in the Brussels National Airport.

Sources: Brussels Airport website

The most famous inhabitant of Nossegem is the singer Sandra Kim, born Sandra Caldarone on 15 October 1972 in Montegnée (Saint-Nicolas). Not a Belgian citizen yet, young Sandra represented Belgium at the Eurovision song contest in Bergen on 3 May 1986 and won the contest, with the unforgettable song J'aime la vie. Aged 13 years and a half, she will remain the youngest participant to the contest since the age limit has been increased to 15 years since then. Sandra, twenty-one years later, was pleasantly interviewed at the Zaventem. Probably even most famous is the parody of J'aime la vie, J'aime Durbuy by Rob Van Oudenhoven, a Flemish artist expressing his love for Wallonia.

Ivan Sache, 4 January 2008

Municipal flag of Zaventem

The municipal flag of Zaventem is horizontally divided yellow-blue-white with a boar's head proper in the central stripe.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 25 May 1981, confirmed by Royal Decree on 16 July 1981 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 5 September 1981, and, again, on 4 January 1995.
The flag is a combination of the former flags of Zaventem, Nossegem and Sint-Stevens-Woluve (blue and yellow) and of Sterrebeek (blue and white).
The boar's head comes from the banner shown on the former arms of Zaventem.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 4 January 2008