"Flemish link to England" Mechelen by Sjalen

Mechelen Travel Guide: 331 reviews and 782 photos

Mechelen is so close to Brussels, yet it took some time before we actually visited its centre and not just the great Plankendael Animal Park. I would lie if I said that it is the most exciting town I have ever visited. It was a bit boring (although we liked the canal area) and moreover, it had a narrow-mindedness about it with people staring at us strangers wherever we went. Having said that, everyone was friendly so don't worry! I know from having met Caroline too (VT's B Caro) :-)

The main reason for us visiting was in fact the links this place has to Yorkshire. Mechelen used to be the capital for Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy by marriage and Duchess of York by birth. Not that she herself was a Yorkshirewoman but Flanders in them days had strong links with Yorkshire through using its wool for the beautiful cloths vowen. Still today there are of course links with the ferry to Hull :-)))

Margaret was also the sister of Richard III (who DID grow up in Yorkshire) and it is likely that he visited her here, if nothing else when he was fleeing to Utrecht to escape England during the War of the Roses. This picture just illustrates that the Duchess of York is not forgotten here, although it is not known what she would have made of Maes pils...

A main wing of Margaret's palace seems to be the city theatre today and much was rebuilt by Margaret of Austria (aunt of Emperor Charles V who grew up here with her) who followed the idea of moving to Mechelen in the 16th century but still looks a nice sight. The town planners have however unfortunately decided to allow the town hall square to be used as a car park which is why Mechelen is not the first place I would see in Belgium by any means but if you enjoy shopping it is nice and if you have children or love animals, nothing beats Plankendael. It is also nice to stroll around the canal area I mentioned earlier and it has some good bars with Belgian beer, not least the local Gouden Carolus, named after Charles V.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Plankendael, some good shopping bargains
  • Cons:not much to do in the centre
  • In a nutshell:Definately have to give it a second chance...
  • Last visit to Mechelen: Jan 2000
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (3)

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2006 at 2:16 AM

    All this and a history lesson as well

  • B_Caro's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2004 at 1:16 AM

    The town hall square is no longer used as a car park, luckily ! There is now an underground car park. During the construction, the whole square was a mess lol, but now it is worth visiting again (and some people still stare .... ;-) lol)

  • belgianchocolate's Profile Photo
    Feb 19, 2004 at 5:51 PM

    mechelen.be/cultuur/geschied... Mechelen has amazing historical buildings. And Margareta's palace is intact. She was very modern,introduced renaissance. Pitty you missed it. (I do agree on the staring) lol


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