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You can find brand-new residential developments, stunning renovation projects and other architectural gems throughout the city centre. An example? Lamot, the former brewery, which was transformed into a magnificent convention and heritage centre is definitely a must-see.
"After our city walk along the Dijle trail, we stopped in Vismarkt for a drink. I could have spent a few hours staring at the imposing Lamot building."
Mechelen has thousands of stories to share
Wherever you are looking from, there’s no denying that St. Rumbold’s Tower dominates the city’s skyline. So gird your loins, because this giant is 97 metres tall! Fortunately, you can catch your breath as you make your way up the many steps, in the six tower chambers. Every chamber has its own function. The path to Mechelen’s rooftop is downright impressive. And where else in the world can you see two carillons in one tower? Once you’ve made it to the top, the breath-taking view from the skywalk is too amazing for words. In the distance you can see the Atomium in Brussels and on a clear day, you may even spot Antwerp’s Cathedral.
A laden silence permeates Mechelen’s former transit camp, which is called Kazerne Dossin. Nowadays you can visit the Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on the Holocaust and Human Rights here. The barracks are a unique and intense place of remembrance. The museum exposes the root causes of mass violence and analyses its underlying dynamics and mechanisms. Here you can learn more about the past and gain new insights into human rights and modern-day conflicts. Kazerne Dossin received a special prize at the 2014 European Museum of the Year Award.
Mechelen’s most tranquil spot has to be the Large Beguinage, next to the city brewery, Het Anker. In the past, beguines used to walk along the cobbled streets. Nowadays, locals live in the Beguinage’s authentic houses. Roam the tiny labyrinthine streets and enjoy the peace and quiet. The people of Mechelen are proud of their Large Beguinage, which was listed as UNESCO World Heritage. And rightfully so!
Mechelen has the most carillons in Flanders. The internationally-renowned Royal Carillon School draws students from around the world to Mechelen, where they learn this extraordinary skill. But you too can enjoy the sound of Mechelen because the 98 bells in St. Rumbold’s Tower play eight melodies every hour. By the end of your day in Mechelen, we bet you will have heard countless melodies, some of which are surprisingly contemporary by the way.
Mechelen is home to several amazing women. But in the past, queens such as Margaret of Austria and Margaret of York already influenced the history of the former capital of the Burgundian Netherlands. Their palaces are located in the city centre. Hof van Savoye, which the locals call Margaret of Austria’s palace, was the first Renaissance building in the Low Countries. The garden, which is a green haven of peace and quiet, is especially enchanting. A great place to forget about everything and simply enjoy yourself.
The number of churches in Mechelen is simply astounding. There are eight in the city centre alone. What’s more, every church has its own signature style. See religious treasures and masterpieces by Rubens and Van Dijck. Peter Paul Rubens’s “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes” in the Church of Our Lady Across the River Dijle is especially memorable.
The Flemish countryside is probably the last place you’d dream of running into a magical winter garden from 1900 with a colourful stained glass cupola. The pride and joy of the school and convent of the Ursulines is a perfect example of the Art Nouveau style. Don’t forget to visit the rest of the former Catholic girls’ boarding school to see its magnificent and innovative architecture.
and Ursuline convent