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Saint-Nicolas (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

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

The municipality of Saint-Nicolas (22,583 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 684 ha; therefore the smallest by its area but the most densely populated municipality in Wallonia) is located immediatly west of Lièe. The municipality of Saint-Nicolas is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Saint-Nicolas, Montegnée and Tilleur.

Saint-Nicolas, Montegné and Tilleur belonged until the French Revolution to the Principality of Liège. Founded in the beginning of the IXth century, the old church of Tilleur is said to have housed the relics of St. Hubert, the founder of the town of Lièe, which were transferred in 825 to the St. Hubert abbey, located in the town of the same name.
In the XIXth century, the industrial revolution transformed the three villages into crowdy towns, with the set up of colleries (Horloz in Tilleur, Bonne-Fortune and Espérance in Montegné) and steelworks (on the bank of the Meuse in Tilleur).

Accordingly, a majority of the today's inhabitants of Saint-Nicolas are of Italian origin, following the massive emigration of Italian workers to Belgium in the 1950s. In March 1961, Princess Paola, the Prince Albert's (today King Albert II) wife of Italian origin, visited a colliery in Montegné and went down 700 m into the mine to meet Italian workers.
Every year, the cyclist race Liège-Bastogne-Liège ends in Ans after having crossed Saint-Nicolas through the famous côte de Saint-Nicolas, aka côte des Italiens. The last slope of the race, the côte de Saint-Nicolas, located on km 246, that is 5.5 km before the finish line, is only 900 m in length but has an average declination of 12 per cent. The passage of the race is celebrated by the hoisting of several Italian national flags; in 2006, the Consul General of Italy in Liège hoisted a 7 x 10 m Italian flag on a small building on the roadside. Unfortunately, this did not help too much the Italians, since the winner was the Spanish Alejandro Valverde. Several Italian cyclists, for instance the four-time winner of the race Moreno Argentin, have said that the crossing of Saint-Nicolas was extremely moving and motivating for them.

Source: Ma commune, Saint-Nicolas, by Claude Warzée

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2007

Municipal flag of Saint-Nicolas

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community proposed a municipal flag for Saint-Nicolas, which would be a banner of the proposed municipal arms. There is, unfortunately again, no image attached to the verbose description:

The geometry of the proposed coat of arms recalls the slag heaps of the former collieries. Vert symbolizes hope and recalls that the colliery of l'Espérance (in French, "hope") was incorporated in 1825. The miter recall the patron saints of the three former municipalities of Saint-Nicolas (Nicolas), Montegnée (Lambert) and Tilleur (Hubert).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 November 2007