Mechelen Favorites

  • City Map At Main Railway Station
    City Map At Main Railway Station
    by johngayton
  • Direction Signpost On The Corner
    Direction Signpost On The Corner
    by johngayton
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    by johngayton

Most Recent Favorites in Mechelen

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    The Church of Our Lady of Hanswijk

    by johngayton Written Jul 24, 2015

    Favorite thing: As with the tower of St Rumbold's Cathedral the dome of the Church of Our Lady of Hanswijk had been intended to be much taller than it ended it up, and for exactly the same reasons - marshy ground and insufficient funds.

    It is still a rather magnificent building and by all accounts the interior is well worth a visit especially for the bas-reliefs surrounding its dome.

    This is another pilgrimage church and legend has it that:

    "A boat carrying merchandise was travelling down the River Dijle; there was also a wooden statue of Mary on board. The vessel ran aground at Hanswijk. After vain attempts to relaunch it, the crew brought the statue ashore, and the boat was able to move on. They regarded this as a clear sign that Mary had chosen this as her dwelling-place."

    I'm not really a church person and so missed out on visiting the inside but from the bridge at Vijkhoek it certainly looks an impressive edifice, despite the scaffolding.

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    Fulling Mill and Lockhouse

    by johngayton Written Jul 24, 2015

    Favorite thing: On the bridge that crosses the river at Vijfhoek, towards the south of the old city centre, you'll come across this intriguing little structure. This is what's left of the city's fulling mills and their accompanying set of locks. Fulling is the process by which woven cloth was cleaned and finished and during Mechelen's height as a major wool importer and manufacturer of cloth, during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the complex here had five mills.

    Most of the complex was demolished in the early 20th century as modern manufacturing processes took over but this mill was thoughtfully preserved as part of the city's rich history.

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    Another Interesting Building

    by johngayton Updated Jul 24, 2015

    Favorite thing: In a city chock-full of fascinating architecture this one, on the old Salt Quay, next to the Grootbrug, particularly caught my attention; especially the finely detailed masonry, the mullioned windows and its carved doorway with a bas-relief sculpture of a salmon above its lintel.

    It comes as no surprise that the building is called "In De Grote Zalm" - House of the Great Salmon. It was built between 1530 and 1535 by the local architect, Willem Van Wechtere and was the base of the Guild of Fishermen.

    It is part of a row of equally historic buildings where the quayside merchants had their homes and warehouses. From the quay the riverside path takes you down to the next bridge at Vijfhoek and that was how I started my very enjoyable random wander around the city.

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    The Oldest Stone Bridge In Flanders

    by johngayton Written Jul 24, 2015

    Favorite thing: Mechelen's Grootbrug (Large Bridge and also known as the Hoogbrug - High Bridge) dates from the 13th century and is claimed to be the oldest stone bridge in Flanders. The bridge spans the Dijle connecting the Korenmarkt on Guldenstraat to Ijzerenleen which leads to the central Grote Markt.

    When built it was one of the main means of access into the burgeoning city and taxes and tolls would have been collected from those using it. Beside it is located the old Zoutwerf, Salt Quay, and river traffic too would have their taxes and tolls collected at the bridge's tollbooth overhanging the river.

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    A Posh Public Loo And Free!

    by johngayton Written Jul 22, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: In our modern commercial world free to use public toilet facilities are becoming fewer and fewer. OK you can always buy a coffee or a beer and use that cafe or bar's facilities but here in Mechelen they make a point of having easy to find WC's.

    One such is at the city hall where you'll find such facilities in the gateway between the Grote Markt and the city hall courtyard - and so need to spend even a penny ;-)

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    The Modern Vismarkt

    by johngayton Written Jul 22, 2015

    Favorite thing: As the city reached its cultural, political and economic zenith in the 16th century the more down-to-earth bits were relocated to its intra-mural periphery and so the stinky fish market was moved from its central location to a riverside one.

    The fish market is no longer there but the square it once occupied has become one of the modern Mechelen's trendiest areas. The riverside location is surrounded by a clutch of trendy cafes, the Mercure hotel and across the bridge a local supermarket.

    Being that little bit out of the way prices are a bit cheaper than the Grote Markt and the space seems much more egalitarian - ideal for a sunny day lunch or even an early evening beer.

    The Square River View
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    The Original Vismarkt

    by johngayton Written Jul 22, 2015

    Favorite thing: Doing my random wandering bit I came across this intriguing quartet of little fishy fountains in the middle of the Ijzerenleen shopping street. It seems this was the original location of the city's fish market during Mechelen's 13th century burgeoning rise to fame.

    Being a bit stinky, and so not conducive to the city's high-fallutin' aspirations the fish market was moved to its riverside location in 1530, making way for much of the later medieval development around the St Rumbold cathedral.

    After all, who wants an open-air fish market outside their newly-built city centre des-res?

    Can't find out who was responsible for the sculptures, but they certainly caught my eye.

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    • Fishing
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    Het Brusselpoort

    by johngayton Written Jul 22, 2015

    Favorite thing: When walking into the city centre from the main railway station the buildings along the busy main road are bland and modernish, offering no hint of what's to come. That is until you get to this one, which sits isolated on its own little island in the middle of the street.

    This is the Brusselpoort, the only remaining city gate after the city walls were demolished in 1781. The building dates from the 13th century, although it was substantially rebuilt in the 16th. It has had various uses of the years, including as a police station, and is presently the offices of the Flemish theatre company, Het Firmament.

    Unfortunately the interior is not publicly accessible but it is an interesting building nevertheless.

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    The Tourist Information Office

    by johngayton Updated Jul 21, 2015

    Favorite thing: Although I didn't have cause to use it the local Tourist Information Office is located at Hallestraat 2-6 on the corner of the Grote Markt, where the statue of the city mascot, Opsinjoorke, is.

    Here you'll get any advice or assistance you could possibly require, including accommodation services, and the office has the usual freebie maps and leaflets as well as souvenirs etc for sale.

    Website is well worth a visit and offers an informative overview of the main attractions:

    http://toerisme.mechelen.be/en

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    No Need For A Tour Guide!

    by johngayton Written Jul 21, 2015

    Favorite thing: In addition to being well signposted, direction-wise, everything of interest has its own informative signage in Flemish, French, German and English. These give a few basic details about what it's all about, as well as a bit of historical background - just enough to whet your appetite for a bit of post-trip research.

    So no need for a guided tour, nor even a guide book.

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    Finding Your Way Around The City

    by johngayton Written Jul 21, 2015

    Favorite thing: Mechelen is an amazingly visitor-friendly city with strategically-located street maps, other maps showing the main attractions in each part of the city and direction signs on pretty much every corner.

    About the only things not signposted are the bars, but those were easy enough to find without assistance ;-HIC!

    City Map At Main Railway Station Direction Signpost On The Corner Monument Route Map In Old City
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    De Mijlpaal (The Milestone)

    by johngayton Written Jun 17, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: One of Mechelen's many claims to fame is that the city was the first in mainland Europe to receive passengers by train. On May 5th 1835 the Brussels to Mechelen line officially opened (extended the following year to Antwerp) and the first passengers alighted close to where this memorial now stands in front of the main Mechelen railway station.

    When first erected, about 50 metres from its present location, it also marked the zero point from which all Belgian rail-lines distances were measured. As the network expanded the Milestone was moved around the country to try to keep it at a central location - in 1878 it was on the Leuven canal. It spent a bit of time in storage between 1959 and 1980 before being returned to Mechelen.

    On the 20th March 1998 it found its final resting place when the new station was built. It is supported by four marble columns which bring its height to exactly that of the new stations cornices and interestingly also acts as the noon marker for both the summer and winter solstices with brass plates on its surrounding square aligning with its shadow.

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    Tourist centre & guides

    by toonsarah Updated Oct 19, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The tourist information service for Mechelen is called In & Uit Mechelen. They have an office in the south east corner of the Grote Markt (near the statue of Op-Signoorke outside the Town Hall). This is the place to come for information about tourist sights, theatre and dance performances (and tickets for these), hotel reservations, city walks and guides. We did one of the guided city walks on offer, the “Three Burgundian generations”. This is the classic Mechelen highlights tour, which focuses on the most important historic buildings, most of them dating from the medieval and Renaissance periods. It offers an opportunity to go inside the Town Hall to see the great reception hall and the wonderful Battle of Tunis tapestry (see my Local Customs tip for more on this). We also visited the palaces of Margaret of Austria and Margaret of York, the Cathedral, the Hof von Busleyden and walked through some of the most interesting of Mechelen’s back streets. Our guide was knowledgeable and helpful, e.g. in adapting the tour to respond to some specific questions we’d asked. This walk costs € 5 and there’s no need to book – you just need to turn up at the desk of In & Uit Mechelen 15 minutes before the start of the tour to get your ticket. Walks are conducted daily during the Easter holidays and throughout July and August at 14.00, and on weekends and public holidays from Easter until mid September at the same time. Other tours available include a climb of the cathedral tower to see the views and the carillon – check the website below for details of this and other possibilities.

    The tourist centre itself is open as follows:
    1st October – 31st March, Monday – Friday 9.30-16.30 and Saturday – Sunday (and public holidays) 10.30-15.30
    1st April – 30th September, Monday 9.30-19.00, Tuesday – Friday 9.30-17.30, Saturday – Sunday (and public holidays) 10.00-16.30

    http://www.inenuitmechelen.be/en/
    070 22 28 00

    Tourist Information in Mechelen

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    Generalities about Mechlin

    by DanielF Updated Sep 18, 2006

    Favorite thing: Mechlin (Mechelen in the vernacular language and Malines, as the francophones call it) is a small city of less than 80.000 inhabitants within commuting distance from both Brussels and Antwerp, the two largest metropolises in the country. Mechlin has been able to preserve its own identity, though, thanks to its prominent role in the history of the Netherlands, of which it was even the capital during a brief period in the XVI century.

    The old town is well preserved and full of pleasant corners for the tourist to discover in a day or two.

    A street of Mechlin

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    Mechlin's historical background

    by DanielF Updated Sep 13, 2006

    Favorite thing: Mechlin has long been an autonomous manorial territory within the Low Countries. The Dukes of Burgundy established here their Great Council, which controlled the government of the manorial territory and functioned as the highest Court in the Low Countries. The government of the entire Low Countries was established here during the reign of Margaret of Austria, reason for which she is still greatly appreciated in the city, which has erected a statue in her honour in the Market Square. The capital status returned to Brussels with Charles V, however, and the city fell into a decline from which it has only lately recovered.

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