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Visiting Brussels, Belgium: remembering the first Belgian flags, dating from 1830

Updated on September 16, 2011
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Commemorative plaque at rue du Marche aux Herbes / Grasmarkt 85, Brussels, for the first two Belgian flags created by Madame / mevrouw Abts, 25 / 26 August, 1830
Commemorative plaque at rue du Marche aux Herbes / Grasmarkt 85, Brussels, for the first two Belgian flags created by Madame / mevrouw Abts, 25 / 26 August, 1830 | Source
Engraving reproducing a picture of the Provisional Government of Belgium in 1830
Engraving reproducing a picture of the Provisional Government of Belgium in 1830 | Source
Map location of Brussels, Belgium
Map location of Brussels, Belgium | Source

Background to a colourful flag

The Belgian Tricolour is one of Europe's most colourful flags, and has its origins in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, when what is today the Kingdom of Belgium achieved independence from The Netherlands.

Some history

The flag is said to have been jointly conceived by Lucien Jottrand and Edouard Ducpétiaux. With the flag originally consisting of horizontal stripes, the three colours — black, yellow and red — were soon thereafter flown vertically by convention.

85, rue du Marché aux Herbes / GrasMarkt is recorded as the house in Brussels, Belgium, in which Marie Abts manufactured the first two Belgian flags. This occurred on the night of 25/26 August of 1830.

The following year, King Leopold I of Saxe-Cobourg took the oath as the first King of the Belgians.

Historical plaque

In order to commemorate this significant event in relation to the Belgian flag, an historical plaque has been established at this house in rue du Marché aux Herbes / GrasMarkt . In French and Dutch, this plaque reads:

'On 26 August, 1830 Mme Abts manufactured here the first two Belgian flags'

Visitors to Downtown Brussels may easily view the plaque on the exterior of this property, situated at the junction of rue du Marché aux Herbes / Grasmarkt and rue de la Colline / Heuvelstraat , which in only a short distance from the historic Grand' Place. The plaque is made easily conspicuous by the addition of black, yellow and red striping, adjacent to the wording.

Some comparisons

Interestingly, German revolutionaries in 1848 adopted the colours black, red and yellow (albeit in a different combination) to symbolize a liberal vision of nationalism; a flag in these colours was eventually used by West and East Germany from 1949 onwards. Official, Belgian adoption of these colours thus predates the time nearly two decades later when they emerged as a rallying symbol in Germany.

The colours themselves had also been used by Brabant revolutionaries in 1789.

Also worth seeing

In Brussels , the numerous visitor attractions include: the Grand' Place, the Royal St Hubert Galleries (situated a few metres away opposite 85 rue du Marché aux Herbes / Grasmarkt ), the Royal Palace and BELvue museum of the Dynasty; the Palace of Justice.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. But the Metro is also a convenient way of getting around Brussels. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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

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