|Province :||Flemish Brabant|
|Area :||58.20 km²|
|Residents:||23,998 (Jan 1, 2019)|
|Population density:||412 inhabitants per km²|
|Post Code:||3290 (Diest)
|Mayor:||Jan Laurys (DDS)|
Local government address :
Grote Mark 1,
Diest is a municipality in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant , with 23,998 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2019). It includes the city of Diest, in which around 11,000 people live, the village of Schaffen, where there is a Belgian military airfield with a training center for paratroopers ("para's"), and the villages of Deurne, Webbekom, Kaggevinne and Molenstede.
The city owes its existence to its favorable location on the Demer and on the Bruges - Cologne trade route . In 1229 Diest was given city rights by Henry I of Brabant . In the Middle Ages, the city and its lordship belonged to the Lords of Diest as a Brabant fief.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the city experienced an economic heyday through well-attended grain and cattle markets and the cloth trade, which is well-known beyond the region.
In 1499 Diest was given to Engelbert II of Nassau as part of a barter . The city remained the property of the House of Orange-Nassau and the residence of this princely house until the southern Netherlands became part of France in 1795 .
Due to the location on the Demer, on the border between Brabant and the Duchy of Liège and the connections to the House of Orange-Nassau, the city was often besieged, plundered and devastated - Diest was captured four times during the Eighty Years War alone . Under the Austrian government (1713-1790) Diest was able to recover and the trade and the brewery revived.
When the Boerenkrijg broke out in 1798 , the young farmers barricaded themselves for four days in the city surrounded by French and were finally able to escape over a temporary bridge over the Demer. The undefended city was sacked by the sansculottes .
The Dutch period followed from 1815 to 1830. Afterwards the city was fortified with new walls against a possible Dutch attack. Hardly anything of these systems has survived today.
In the two world wars Diest did not suffer any major damage.
The city today
Today tourism and the service and trade sectors support the city's economy, which is only of regional importance.
The Grote Markt von Diest is surrounded by picturesque patrician houses from the 16th to 18th centuries. The pre-classical town hall ( Stadhuis ), built in 1728 , is also located here in the basement of which the town museum is housed. Among the exhibits in the museum are armor of Philip of Orange , gold and silversmiths and a portrait of René of Orange-Nassau and his wife Anna of Lorraine.
St. Sulpitius Church
The St. Sulpitius Church is also located on the Grote Markt. It was built between 1417 and 1534 from the brown sandstone typical of the Demergotic . The choir is older and dates from 1320 . In the church there is the grave of Philipp Wilhelm of Orange , who ruled the city after the death of his father Wilhelm I of Orange-Nassau .
Diest also has a picturesque beguinage with houses from the 16th to 18th centuries. Century and a church from the 14th century. The farm was founded in 1252 and was inhabited until 1923 . It is one of the most important beguinages in Belgium and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 . In the simple St. Catherine's Church there are numerous paintings, lace and a pulpit that is well worth seeing.
In the center of the city are the Hof van Nassau (built in 1510 by Heinrich III. Von Nassau ) and the refuge ( Refugiehuis ) of Averbode Abbey , which is about 5 kilometers from Diest. The Gothic Liebfrauenkirche (built 1253–1288) with the award-winning pulpit is also worth a visit. In the Sint Jan Berchmansstraat you can visit the Gulden Maan house with the birth room of St. Jan Berchmans .
sons and daughters of the town
- Jan van den Dale (1460–1522), Dutch rhetorician and painter
- Nicolaes Cleynaerts (1493–1542), Belgian humanist , theologian , grammarian , orientalist and Semitist
- Jan Berchmans (1599–1621), Belgian Jesuit
- Liliane Saint-Pierre (* 1948), Belgian singer
- Marleen Renders (* 1968), Belgian athlete
- Geert Verheyen (* 1973), Belgian racing cyclist
- Timmy Simons (* 1976), Belgian footballer
- Nico Sijmens (* 1978), Belgian racing cyclist
- Marieke Vervoort (1979–2019), Belgian wheelchair athlete in disabled sports
- Dylan Teuns (* 1992), Belgian racing cyclist