Eupen BE – Street view 02
Eupen BE – Street view 02
Eupen is a city and municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, 15 kilometres from the German border (Aachen), from the Dutch border (Maastricht) and from the "High Fens" nature reserve (Ardennes).
The town is also the capital of the Euroregion Meuse-Rhine.
First mentioned in 1213 as belonging to the Duchy of Limburg, possession of Eupen passed to Brabant, Burgundy, the Holy Roman Empire and France before being given in 1815 to Prussia, which joined the German Empire in 1870. In 1919, after the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles transferred Eupen and the nearby municipality of Malmedy from Germany to Belgium.
German remains the official language in Eupen, and the city serves as the capital for Belgium’s German-speaking Community. The city has a small university, the Autonome Hochschule in der deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft, offering bachelor degrees in Education and Nursing. In 2010, Eupen’s association football team, K.A.S. Eupen, became the first club from the German-speaking Community to play in the Belgian Pro League.
On 1 January 2006 Eupen had a total population of 18,248 (8,892 males and 9,356 females). The total area is 103.74 square kilometres which gives a population density of 175.90 inhabitants per km². Eupen is considered in Belgium to be a Roman Catholic region with strongly conservative views.
After the First World War, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles transferred Eupen and the nearby municipality of Malmedy from Germany to Belgium. The effect led to the formation of extreme right-wing Nazi-like groups in Eupen. In 1940, the German Third Reich invaded Belgium; in an attempt to reverse Versailles, Eupen and Malmedy were annexed to Germany. Later that year, Eupen was declared to be a city "Free from Jews" as its entire Jewish population was killed in concentration camps. In September 1944, American forces reached Eupen which became a centre of fierce fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. The following year Eupen was returned to Belgian control and tried its first Nazi for war crimes relating to the extermination of Jews. Trials continued until 1952.
In 1949, the left tower of the St Nikolaus Church burnt down. The city centre was affected by flooding in 1953 and demolished in 1973 to create car parks. Eupen merged with the municipality of Kettenis in 1976, amidst protest from that town. In 1980, following a state reform ten years earlier, the German-Speaking Community of Belgium was established and Eupen was named as its capital.