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Grâce-Hollogne (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: grace-hollogne | lion (red) |
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[Flag of Grace-Hollogne]

Municipal flag of Grâce-Hollogne - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 10 September 2006

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Presentation of Grâce-Hollogne

The municipality of Grâce-Hollogne (21,854 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,403 ha, therefore one of the biggest municipalities in the Province of Liège) is located on the left bank of river Meuse, upstream (15 km westwards) from Liège. The municipality of Grâce-Hollogne was made in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Grâce-Berleur, Hollogne-aux-Pierres, Bierset Horion-Hozémont and Velroux. Grâce-Hollogne is mostly known to be the site of the Liège Airport and of the Air Force base of Bierset.

The fort of Hollogne, a small equilateral triangle of 200 m in side, was built in 1887 as a part of the Position Fortifiée de Liège, the belt of fortresses (six big ones and six smaller ones) expected to protect Liège and Namur designed by General Brialmont. The surrender of the fort of Hollogne to the Germans on 16 August 1914 was the last event in the so-called Battle of Liège. This battle postponed the advance of the German army towards France and allow the French army to better organize the defense of the territory. The fort was later used as an ammunition dump by the Germans and then by the Belgians. During the Second World War, it was the headquarters of a tentative German V2 launching site in 1944 and then of an American military hospital during the Battle of the Bulge. After the liberation, the fort was used as the headquarters of the military airport and then as a dump and kennel for the NATO base. It was abandoned by the armed forces and purchased by the Ministry of Equipment and Transportation in 1998. The fort is today part of the Liège Airport complex.

Around 1260, the Knight Templars purchased goods in Bierset. A document kept in the State Archives in Liège and dated from the XVth century states that Gilles, Lord of Bierset, gave to the Templars a significant part of his domain. This Gilles is also known from a document dated 1261 and concerning the St. Lambert church in Liège. On 28 November 1265, Gérard de Villers purchased from Baudart, Canon of St. Lambert, half of the communal mill of Bierset, which was located in Hollogne-aux-Pierres and two adjacent pastures, and set up a regular house of the Temple there. A more comprehensive document, part of the Van der Berg manuscript kept in the University Library in Liège, states that, on 17 October 1289, Baudouin de Bierset signed an agreement with Friar Rénier, Master of the houses of the Militia of the Temple in Hesbaye. The agreement granted the right on the church of Bierset to the Templars, who were allowed to appoint a parish priest. At the end of the XIIIth century, the ecclesiastic morals were very lax and the Templars attempted in several place to restore the authority and image of the church by controlling the priests. The last remains of the Templars' house were suppressed a few years ago; a few commemorative stones can be seen in the Curtius Museum in Liège.

In 1914, a grassy airfield was set up on the municipal territory of Ans. The Germans took control of the airfield on 8 August 1914; during the First World War, they transformed the plain of Bierset into an airfield. The Belgian Air Force settled in Bierset in 1922 and abandoned Ans in 1930. The same year, the International Exhibition took place in Liège; an air terminal was built in Bierset and scheduled lines between Brussels, Antwerp and Liège were launched by the national carrier Sabena. In 1940, the airfield was used by the German bombers. At the end of the war, the 42th Group of the 9th US Air Force occupied Bierset, whose runway was increased. The airport was retroceded to Belgium in 1945 and Sabena launched a scheduled line Liège-Paris, operating three DC3. In 1946, the management of the airport was granted to the Régie des Voies Aériennes (RVA), which promoted sport flying. The Belgian Air Force and RVA signed an agreement in 1952, by which Bierset became a military airport, supervized by NATO and managed by RVA for the civil purposes. The civil terminal Liège-Berset was inaugurated in 1976. The regionalization laws transferred in 1988 the competency on the airports to the Regions. In the 1990s, passenger and cargo traffic dramatically increased; a partnership with ADP (Aéroports de Paris) was signed in 1999. A new passenger terminal was opened in 2005.
The airport and its business park are today completely located on the municipal territory of Grâce-Hollogne.


Ivan Sache, 10 September 2006

Municipal flag of Grâce-Hollogne

The municipal flag of Grâce-Hollogne is horizontally divided into eleven stripes, in turn white and blue, with a red lion with a yellow crown, tongue and claws, vertically stretching over the nine central stripes.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the proposal made by the Heraldry and Vexillology Commission of the French Community was a banner of the municipal arms:
Onze laizes longitudinales, alternativement blanches et bleues, avec un lion rouge armé, lampassé et couronné de jaune brochant sur le tout.
The only difference is that the lion on the real flag is not stretching over the whole flag (brochant sur le tout) but restricted to the nine central stripes.

The municipal website shows the municipal arms on its frontpage; they must have been adopted since the publishing of Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, but might as well be used without any formal adoption procedure.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 10 September 2006

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