Visiting the Town Museum, Eupen, Belgium: housed in an historic building dating from 1697

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Town Museum, Eupen, Belgium
Town Museum, Eupen, Belgium | Source
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, July 21, 2013
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, July 21, 2013 | Source

A museum in a German-speaking part of the country

This property is stuated in Belgium's Liège (German: Lüttich) province, in the Walloon region (German: Wallonische Region; French: Région wallonne).

In this building, a museum, (depicted, right), I spent an interesting time learning more about the history of the town. I even purchased a history book here about Eupen's past (1). A book in French, maybe? No, in German, because Eupen is one of eastern Belgium's German-speaking towns; others include St Vith (made famous in World War Two during the Battle of the Bulge) and Buetgenbach (one of the localities where General Eisenhower maintained headquarters).

The stone facing of the building is typical of the area. In the pointed gable the year '1697' is clearly visible. Originally the house was the property of a prosperous merchant.

This fine, well-preserved 17th century building gives local history a sense of perspective. The fact is that until after World War One the town of Eupen was situated in Germany. The fact is also that Belgium as an independent kingdom did not exist until 1830. Thus it is hard for anyone to argue purely on an ethnolinguistic basis that Eupen and the Ostkantone 'ought' to belong to Germany (2) or 'ought not' to belong to Belgium.

Quite simply, Eupen is a German-speaking town in a German-speaking area of Belgium, but the local citizens are Belgians; and, interestingly, King Philippe of the Belgians (1960-), who ascended to the Belgian throne in 2013, took the oath for his reign in German as well as in French and Dutch, thus promising to maintain the country's territorial integrity.

September 9, 2013

Map location of Eupen municipality, Liège province, Belgium
Map location of Eupen municipality, Liège province, Belgium | Source

Notes

(1) Grenz-Echo-Verlag is a Belgian publishing house which specializes in books of local, Ostkantone interest in the medium of German.

(2) Germany is simply one of a number of European countries where German is spoken officially; others include Austria, Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and, indeed, this part of eastern Belgium. It might be added that, for its part, since its foundation in 1949, leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany have consistently shown little interest in irredensist moves as regards German-speaking areas beyond its borders. Interestingly, in German-speaking Eupen, in a manner which maybe foresaw the establishment of the Euro currency in 2002, for many years prior to this date German Marks were acceptable coinage in the town's parking metres, specially modified to receive them.

Also worth seeing

In Eupen itself, other noted buildings include: Haus Grand Ry, seat of government for Belgium's German-speaking Community (German: Deutschsprachige Gemeinde); the twin-towered Sankt-Nikolaus-Kirche, the Sankt-Lambertus-Kapelle, dating from 1690, and the Protestant Friedenskirche.

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How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Eupen: 126 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service from Brussels to Eupen. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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