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Tourist information and destination rating

Category: Cities, Local time: 04:23:10, Tel.: +32 15 28 00 00, Official WWW website:


nice people
breathtaking architecture
nice weather
delicious meals
distinctive atmosphere
tasty beer
has an amusement park
mild climate


rather expensive

Suitable for

active vacation

Why to go there?

old&new architecture

Transportation and means of transport

international airport

Information and Facts

GPS: 51.0281, 4.478
Altitude: 8 m
Distance from the capital city: Brussels, 31 km
Last update: 2012-10-21 20:35:59

Mechelen: Reviews

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 Aura: 69Reviews: 1242011-08-31 10:25:14
Mechelen (in French: Malines) is a charming historical city, in the 16th century for some time the capital city of the Netherlands. It is located on the banks of the Dijle River, in the northern part of Belgium, approximately 25 km to the north of the capital city Brussels , actually a half way between Brussels and Antwerp in the Antwerp region in the Flemish part of the country. Mechelen has a population of approximately 80 thousand. It is the tenth largest city in Belgium.

Historic highlights

Mechelen is situated in the area called Flemish Diamond, which is a densely populated part of Belgium between Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven. Archaeological findings prove that the locality was settled already in the period around 400 B.C. Mechelen was then colonised by Gallo-Romans and Germans.
In the 8th century, influenced by St. Rumbold, Irish missionary and priest, the people living in and around the town of Mechelen converted to Christianity. The name of St. Rumbold was given to one of the dominating landmarks of the town, the gothic cathedral. It was built in the period of 13th to 16th century and its tower, equipped with double chimes, is 97 m high. The cathedral has been declared the UNESCO Heritage Site.

The capital of Hapsburg Netherlands

Mechelen was granted town privileges in the 14th century under the rule of Brabant dukes. At that time, textile industry was greatly developing, the town was becoming more moneyed and its power was increasing. The boom was then continuing under the rule of Burgundy dukes in the course of the 15th century, when Mechelen was the seat of major government institutions. Mechelen was at the height of its powers in the first half of the 16th century, under the rule of Margaret of Austria, when it became the capital city of Low Countries (roughly Netherlands) . When Margaret of Austria died, most of the government bodies were moved to Brussels and Mechelen lost its political importance.

Spiritual centre

However, at that time the ecclesiastical importance of the town was growing. In 1559, Mechelen became the residence of archbishops and the spiritual centre of the Netherlands. The city was maintaining this influence in Belgium as well, until 1961. Since then, Mechelen has been sharing the title of Archdiocese with Brussels.

UNESCO Heritage Site

Another significant monument, built in the 16th century, is the Klein and the Groot Begijnhof (Small and Large Beguinages) , a unique complex of buildings owned by the Beguine Order. It is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Period of Nazi terror

In the 19th century, Mechelen became an important railway node. During the Second World War, the Nazi established in this town their transit camp.

Tourist highlights

Mechelen is a picturesque town with typical atmosphere of crooked lanes, little shops and cafés that offer strong Belgian coffee and hot chocolate. In the centre of the town you can visit a large market and buy local products, namely sweets and chocolate. The best shopping locality in the town is Ijzerenleen Square, in the medieval times famous for fish markets.

Grote Markt

Among other tourist attractions in Mechelen, the square named Grote Markt should be mentioned. There is a statue of Margareth of York and three historical buildings, now used as the city hall: the late gothic Paleis van de Groote Raad (from the 16th century) , the gothic Belfort (watchtower from the 14th century) and the Lakenhal, formerly the hall for merchants of woollen cloth, built in the 14th century. The square is lined by renaissance houses from the 16th century and houses built in the rococo style from the 18th century. Its dominating feature is the already-mentioned St. Rumbold´s Cathedral .
There are other sacral buildings in Mechelen, such as the baroque basilica (Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Hanswijk) , Church of St. John the Evangelist (Sint-Janskerk) , Church of St. Peter and Paul (Sint-Pieter en Pauluskerk) and also Church of Our Lady across the river Dijle (Kerk van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-over-de-Dijle) .

Architecture and gardens

Tourists usually admire the late gothic Palace of Margaret of York, now used as the theatre, and as well as the Palace of Margaret of Austria, originally the residence of the Supreme Court, now the Palace of Justice. The wonderful renaissance gardens of the Palace of Margaret of Austria are now open to the public.

Tourist attractions for children and adults

Mechelen offers children visitors the Toy Museum (Speelgoedmuseum) and the nature park ( Dierenpark Plankendael) . Adult tourists are usually intrigued by the royal manufacture of tapestry (De Wit) and by the tour around the brewery house (Het Anker) from the 14th century, which you can combine with a visit to the brewery restaurant where all meals are prepared with beer. The city is the seat of the University of Chime. It was founded in 1922 by Jef Denijn, and it is the only, thus the oldest school of chime in the world. The atmosphere of local chime is just untouchable...


Mechelen is located approximately 20 km to the north of the international airport in Brussels, and you can get to Mechelen very easily, by a shuttle. The shuttle operates between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., at least twice an hour. The ride lasts some 50 minutes. The Brussels´ Nord is used both by international bus companies ( Eurolines) and by local buses that depart to Mechelen between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. every 20 minutes. Mechelen is accessible by railway as well. The railway station is right under the international airport but you have to change at the railway station Brussels´Nord. The way lasts approximately 45 minutes. A single ticket is more expensive than the bus ticket but there are many kinds of tickets sold for reduced prices in Belgium, and it is recommendable to check the options. The train between Brussels and Mechelen is worth trying. The railway was built in 1835 and it is the very first railway in continental Europe.

Cities around

MechelenHofstade (4.2km)Rijmenam (8km)Boortmeerbeek (8km)Ruisbroek (12km)Puurs (15km)Melsbroek (12km)Lier (13km)Steenokkerzeel (13km)

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