Infobox Belgium Municipality
mayor=georges lenssen (vld)|majority= vld, SP.A
web= [http://www.maasmechelen.be/ www.maasmechelen.be]
Maasmechelen is a municipality located on the
Meuse riverin the Belgian province of Limburg. The Maasmechelen municipality comprises the former communes of Mechelen-aan-de-Maas, Vucht, Leut, Meeswijk, Uikhoven, Eisden, Opgrimbie, Boorsem, and Kotem. Maasmechelen’s border location and flourishing mining history have attracted inhabitants from neighbouring Netherlands and Germany, and from as far as Eastern Europe ("e.g.", Poland) and the Mediterranean ("e.g.", Italy and Turkey).
Prehistoric and Roman times
plateauof Campinewas built up during the ice agewith deposits of sand and other material that the Meuse river had eroded in the upstream Ardennesregion. The higher elevation and the proximity of fertile river clay made this location an attractive one for the prehistoric tribes who established themselves here in the 2nd millennium BCand for the Celtic peoples who moved in the area in the 1st millennium BC.
In Roman times, this region was at the border between the provinces of
Gallia Belgicaand Germania Inferior. The main Roman road crossed the river near Maastricht, to the south. Settlements were built where Maasmechelen lies today to service the garrison that was maintained to protect the bridge in Maastricht.
The few centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire were marked by a sharp decline in travel and trade. The
Frankswere now the new masters of the land. International commercial activities resumed on the river around the 7th century. This was also a time when the river progressively moved eastward. The Roman colonies that were originally built on the right bank of the river now found themselves on the left bank. The abundance of streams and wetlands favoured stockbreeding over agriculture. The feudal system and the practice of paying civil servants with land resulted in endless territory subdivisions. Some parcels, including Mechelen-aan-de-Maas and parts of Opgrimbie, were given to the abbey of Saint Servatiusin Maastricht. Other parcels came into the hands of local lords, who pledged allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor. Yet other parts of the territory came into the possession of local religious communities. Churches and cloisters were built and enlarged to accommodate a growing population.
19th and 20th century
The aftermath of the
French Revolutionbrought a series of dramatic changes that include the dismantlement of most religious organizations, the closing of churches, and the reorganization of the territory into new administrative entities. During the 19th century, the area had still an unmistakable rural character.
On May 20, 1901, André Dumont found commercial-grade coal in neighbouring As. This led to the exploitation of coal mines in
Eisdenfrom 1923 to 1987. A garden cityand a new church dedicated to Saint Barbara, also known as the mining cathedral, were built there. The industrial development attracted workers from all over Europe, which accounts for the numerous international restaurants still found today in Eisden.
*The largest part of the natural reservation "Nationaal Park Hoge Kempen" is located on Maasmechelen’s territory. It was established to protect the unique fauna and flora of the plateau of Campine.
*The "Eisdense cité", a 19th-century garden city with typical cottage-like houses in a park setting, still bear witness to the city’s mining history. One of the houses has been converted in a museum.
*A "fashion" village was built near the old mining district. The attractive setting and the designers’ boutiques of "Maasmechelenvillage" attract thousands of visitors every year.
windmilldating from 1801 was recently restored and is open to the public every other Sunday.
carnivalmuseum can also be visited right next to the city’s main square.
carnivaland parade, where masked people entertain numerous visitors, occur every year on November 11, starting at 11:11 am.
comic-bookfestival takes place on the second Sunday of February with the participation of famous comic-book authors.
Katerine Avgoustakis, singer and winner of “Star Academy” in 2005 (b. 1983)
Mustafa Kör, writer of the roman "De Lammeren" published in 2007 by Van Gennep
*The region around Maasmechelen has produced quite a few sports personalities:
Patrick Stevensfrom Maasmechelen is an athlete (runner, olympic finalist on 200 meters in 1996);
Heidi Rakelsfrom Maasmechelen is a famous Belgian judoka;
Stefan Evertsfrom Neeroeterenhas been world motocrosschampion several times;
Kim Clijstersfrom Breehas been ranked number one in the WTA ( tennis).
*Maasmechelen hosts the football club named
K. Patro Maasmechelen.
*The town is also the home of the "Duivelsbergcircuit" (Devils Hill Circuit) at Opgrimbie, a well attended international
Twin cities and partner cities
* [http://www.maasmechelen.be Official website] - Only available in Dutch
* [http://www.maasmechelen.com the Commercial website of Maasmechelen] - Maasmechelen.com
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