Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
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Municipal flag of Brussels - Image by Santiago Dotor, 10 March 2003, logotype from the municipal website
The municipal flag of Brussels, as flown from the city hall (a recently-restored, beautiful medieval building in the Grand Place) and other buildings is a square, horizontally divided green over red flag, with on its centre a very large version of the municipal logotype, a stylized, disc-shaped silhouette of St. Michael trampling the devil, in dark yellow.
Santiago Dotor, 10 March 2003
In Louda's European Civic Arms [lou66], the arms of the city of Brussels are:
Gules Saint Michael or trampling the devil
Filip Van Laenen, 7 September 1995
Former municipal flags of Brussels, c. 1900 - Images 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 cities, then based on the traditional colours of the cities.
Two flags are shown for Brussels, the first horizontally divided red-green and the second vertically divided green-red.
Jan Martens & Ivan Sache, 12 June 2005
Former municipal flag of Brussels, c. 1930 - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 July 2001
The cover of Vexillacta [vxl] #12 (June 2001) shows a painting by Pierre Thévenet (1870-1937), entitled Bruxelles - Porte de Namur - 21 juillet 1932. The 21st of July is the National Day in Belgium. On the main building represented on the painting are hoisted:
Ivan Sache, 3 July 2001
Flag of Ilot Sacré - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 June 2005
The Universal Exhibition planned in 1958 in Brussels caused drastic
modification in the city; in order to improve communication, several
narrow cities had to be widened and several historical buildings had to
be demolished or diminished. The central borough around rue des
Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat (Butcher's street) and rue des
Dominicains / Predikherenstraat (Dominicans' street), located close to
Grand Place / Grote Markt (Great Square) was specifically targeted. The
inhabitants of the borough, the storekeepers and the local associations
protested and the borough was spared. The anarchic town planning, which
caused the suppression of several historical buildings and the erection
of horrible skyscrapers, was called by the architects opposed to the
system the "brusselisation".
In 1959, the Mayor of Brussels Lucien Cooremans set up a Consultative Commission for Town Planning, whose main goal was to create protected blocks (îlots). On 21 March 1960, the specific urban plan #30/10 was adopted. It prohibited any modern building and promoted the restoration and harmonization of the existing buildings in the îlots. A Royal Decree signed on 24 August 1960 created seven protected îlots.
The Free Municipality of Ilot Sacré (Commune Libre de l'Ilot Sacré) is
the follower of the storekeepers' association Ilot Sacré numéro 1,
founded on 3 June 1960 in the Van Dijck Tavern, on 26 rue des Bouchers
in Brussels. The aim of the association was "to revive the folkloric
characteristics of the borough without any profit making". The founders
of the association were Jean Van Calck, working at the newspaper Le
Soir; the baker Emile Paulwen; the taverner Georges Lempereur; and the
provincial civil servant Julien Beelen. Lucien Cooremans, Mayor of
Brussels, accepted to be the Honour President of the association.
The first festival organized by the association took place on 3
September 1960; it was a reenaction of a visit of the borough made by
the Municipal Council, then presided by Mayor Emile Demot, in 1900.
Jean Van Calck played the Mayor and kept the honorific title of Mayor
after the ceremony. The festival was a great success, washed down with
a lot of beer and rain, which blocked the procession for two hours on
Place de la Monnaie (Mint Square).
In 1964, a few members of the association proposed to transform it into a Free Municipality, on the model of the Commune Libre du Vieux Montmartre in Paris, in order to establish more efficient relations with the authorities and to gain a juridical existence. On 1 March 1965, the general assembly decided to transform the folkloric association Ilot Sacré numéro 1 into the non-profit making association Commune Libre de l'Ilot Sacré. The statutes of the new association were approved by the assembly and published in the Belgian official gazette on 11 May 1967. The founding members of the new association were Claude Bucken (La Perle Noire), Serge De Backer (Le Bourgeoys de Broecksele), Albert Defays (La Petite Provence), Georgette Desmet (La Taverne Royale), Paul Vanderkeerssen (Chez Stans), Paul Vanlancker (Chez Léon) and Calixte Veulemans (Aux Armes de Bruxelles).
The creation of Ilot Sacré had a very positive effect on the borough,
which escaped the "brusselisation". More than 50 houses were restored
in the Italo-Flemish style, once widespread in Brussels. Ilot Sacré is
considered today as the most genuine, picturesque and livey borough in
the city. Due to the number and diversity of its restaurants, it was
also nicknamed "the stomach of Brussels".
In 1965, the Board of Governors of the association was renamed Municipal Council (Conseil Communal), with members elected for two years by the general assembly. The President was renamed Great Baillif (Grand Bailli), the Vice-President, Baillif (Bailli) and the other governors Echevins. Several honor titles were created: Ambassador, Consul, Chaplain and Honour Citizen, as well as Honour Great Baillif and Honour Echevin. These titles are granted by the Municipal Council on behalf of the inhabitants of Ilot Sacré.
The territory of the Free Municipality is delimited by rue des Fripiers, rue de l'Ecuyer, rue d'Arenberg, rue de la Montagne and rue du Marché aux Herbes / Grasmarkt. All the streets, dead ends and galleries located within this perimeter, as well as the adjacent streets and squares, are part of Ilot Sacré.
One of the most famous places of Ilot Sacré is the Royal Toone's Theater, one of the most renowned puppet theater in the world. The Toone dynasty is not necessarily hereditary; the first Toone was Antoine Genty (Toone is the local short form of Antoine), a streer puppet master active from 1830 to 1890. Toone II (François Taelemans aka Jan van de Marmit, 1848-1895) was appointed by Toone I, who was his son's godfather. Toone III (Georges Hambeuf, aka Toone de Locrel, 1866-1898) employed ten workers and a scene shifter; he owned 400 puppets and put on some 1,000 plays. He was challenged for the title of Toone III by Jan Schoonenburg (aka Jan de Crol, 1852-1926), who eventually lost his customers and hung himself among his puppets. Hambeuf's son, Jean-Baptiste (1884-1966), succedeed his father as Toone IV. He set up a partnership with the puppetmaker Antoine Taelemans, son of Toone II. Toone IV created in 1934 "The Mystery of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ", specially written for puppets by the famous Belgian writer Michel de Ghelderode. Toone V (Daniel Vanlandewijck, 1888-1938) was expelled from his theater by the Hygiene Commission and sold all his puppets; the mayor of Brussels Adoplhe Max and the jeweller Marcel Wolfers purchased the puppets and offered Toone V a new theater. The most famous performance of Toone V caused a great fuss because the puppet Giant Woltje was shown naked in bed with a toofe mokske (cute girl). Toone VI (Pierre Welleman, 1892-1974) had to move his theater from place to place, in spite of the support of famous artists, including Ghelderode. When Toone VI decided to give up, the painter Jef Bourgeois, curator of the Toone museum, founded the associations "The Toone's friends", which appointed José Géal as Toone VII on 10 December 1963, with the support of Toone IV and Toone VI. Toone VII, a professional puppet master of international fame, transfered the theater in Ilot Sacré in 1966. On 10 December 2003, Nicolas Géal, Toone VII's son, was set up Toone VIII. He played Geneviève de Brabant, a puppet opera by Erik Satie.
The first flag of the Free Municipality of Ilot Sacré, offered by a
patron, was inaugurated on 15 September 1965. It was a 2 x 2 m square
flag with a red and green fringe. The shield of the municipality was
placed in the middle of the flag, with two scrolls above and below the
shield. The writing on the obverse of the flag was in French (Commune
Libre above, Centre Gastronomique below), on the reverse, it was in
Dutch (Vrije Gemeente and Gastronomische Centrum, respectively).
The shield of Ilot Sacré is tierced; the upper field is red and the lower field is green. Ancient houses are shown on a white background in each field. The stripe is charged with the writing "L'Ilot Sacré" in Gothic letters on a white background.
The current flag has slightly different writing, "Commune Libre de l'Ilot Sacré", above, and "Bruxelles 1960 Brussel", below.
Source: Free municipality website
Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 3 June 2005
The French artist Daniel Buren set up in Paris in summer 2002 an artwork called Les couleurs : sculpture made of vertically coloured stripe flags hoisted over 15 big buildings.According to Le Soir (26 March 2004), the Collège (Municipal Council) of Brussels has asked Buren to contribute to the revamping of the place de la Justice. Buren's artwork shall be incorporated into a larger revamping called Chemins de la Ville, drafted by the architects of the Capart bureau.
The first draft of the artwork includes 133 masts to be displayed on
the whole square except the car ways (sic). Since the square is not
flat, all masts won't be equally high but their elevation will be the
same. The aim of the set up is to build a forest in which cars and
pedestrians will have to find their way.
The masts will have flags, and a special device will prevent the flags to wrap around the masts in case of wind. There will be a light on the top of each mast.
The authorization of setting up the Chemins de la Ville artwork shall be issued by the Region Brussels-Capital upon request of the municipality of Brussels. The article in Le Soir is illustrated by a sketch of the artwork by Buren. The flags are shown as roughly 3:1 in proportion, with 9 black vertical stripes alternating with 8 white vertical stripes.
Ivan Sache, 20 July 2004