Mechelen Things to Do Tips by Pavlik_NL Top 5 Page for this destination
Mechelen Things to Do: 174 reviews and 263 photos
Beautiful palace facade on the "Veemarkt"
This palace opposit of the town's theatre (and older palace) was built from 1507 by Rombout II Keldermans in order of Margaret of Austria. She was regent of the Netherlands as her husband Charles the Bold, died before their son Charles the fifth was old enough to rule.
Biggest parts is in late-Gothic style, but the gate is one of the first buildings in the Renaissance style of the Lowlands. Here (and across the street) the later emperor Charles V spent teenage years at the court of his aunt. Later, when the emperor left to Brussels this palace was the residence of Cardinal Granvelle, and from 1616 until 1795 it was used by the Great Council of the Netherlands. The palace is now the Courthouse (since 1796).
Directions: Corner of the "Veemarkt", right side of the street looking away from the square.
Historical acts in the town's theatre
Right from the Peter & Paul's church there is a large castleshaped house. Flags wave above the door and letters show what it now-a-days is: the "Stadsschouwburg" or town's theatre. The house however is of significant historical importance as it belongs to the palace of "Margareth van York" (Margaret of York). After her another Margaret took it as part of the empirial residential palace in the times that Mechelen shortly was capitol of the Lowlands. Her cousin Charles and his three sisters Elionora, Isabella and Maria grew up here. Later Charles became known as one of the strongest and most beloved Habsburgian emperor's as being Charles the fifth. He replaced the capitol back to Brussels again, leaving Mechelen beside.
Directions: Outer corner of the "Veemarkt" next to (right side) the Sint Petrus & Paulus church.
Wall plate telling about important residents
Margaret of York, after becoming widow of Charles the Bold, moved to Mechelen and had this palace built in 1480. She bought the place, known as the Court of "Kamerijk", owned by the bishop Jan of Bourgogne and therefore the residence of the "Kamerijk" bishops. Remodeling this plus seven adjecent other buildings into her palace it became later the town theatre (stadsschouwburg). She only lived here rather short and sold it back to the town that on it's turn gave it to Maximiliaan of Austria and his son Philips (the "Schone") in an attemot to keep Mechelen being a royal residence. His son Charles (later becoming Habsburgian emperor Charles V) spent here his childhood, but left Mechelen when he started to rule over his huge empire concluding Spain, parts of Italy, the Lowlands, Austria, Hungary, Czechia and Germany. Last role the building had after being empty for almost a century, was a hospital for military pensionairs and invalides.
Directions: Corner of the Veemarkt on left side of the road that leads away.
Row of monumental guild houses on the Grote Markt
Besides the already mentioned Communal museum of Mechelen in the Busleyden house, Mechelen has two nice other museums:
The "horlogery" (watches) museum at the Lange schipstraat number 13 (telephone +32 (0) 15 / 21 18 94)
and the "Speelgoed" (toys) museum at the Nekkerspoel Borcht number 21 (telephone +32 (0)15 / 55 70 75).
Furthermore Mechelen has the only "Beiaard school" (Carrillion players) of Belgium.
Address: see above
Phone: see above
The "Klapgat" within the Benedictin refugium
Then back in the street a gateway passage offers entrance to a small alley, called "Klapgat". This is a part of the Benedictin's refugium (refugee), a house where this relgious group took care of the ill, the poor and the outcasted people of Mechelen's society. These Benedictin abbey were founded by the Benedictin's from Saint Truiden, a town in Belgian Limburg. The building dates back to the 16th century and is made from red bricks and sandstone. The streetname "Klapgat" is strange ("klap" = smash or hit and "gat" is hole). Maybe in the old days this narrow dark alley was a place where people regularly got beaten up? No, again Belgianchocolate helped me out. "Klappen" is a Belgian "slang" word meaning "to gosip". This alley was used by women to tell the latest stories to one another.
Address: Goswin de Stassa straat
Directions: Go into the alley "Klapgat"
Entrance to the "Hof van Villers"
About this little court I haven't found that much historical information. I was curious whether "Villers" is descending from a French name or is coming from the Dutch verb "villen" (to get the skin of animals). "Belgianchocolat" knew to enlighten me by telling that "Villers" was a town and it had an abbey. this abbey started a refugium in Mechelen, the "Hof van Villers".
Anyway, the court is very nice and open, after entering it through a graceful gateway. Now-a-days the complex is used for small conventions, expositions and other activities.
Directions: Leave the Vismarkt on the other side and shortly turn left into the Persoonshoek (funny, that actually means "Personal corner").
Last but not least, again a look at old courthouse
Well, walking out of the street again you will notce that we are again in front of the "Klapgat", a place that we've seen in the beginning. When turning right again onto the Goswyn de Stassartstraat we return to the Saint Rombouts-tower and have a loast view over the small canal (Groen waterke) that we've seen before. Now we know that the magnificent building is the old courthouse, as well as we have gotten to know the centre of beautiful and historical Mechelen. Time for a terrace and a deliscious Belgian beer!
The strong entrance to the hotel ouglas Dict Scott
Across the street from the old courthouse there is another innercourt, this time however without so much green trees, bushes and plants. This monumental building is the former hotel Douglas Dict Scott built in a late gothic / renaissance style in the 16th century. The large building was indeed used as a hotel, especially for pelgrims in the older days, later for wider kinds of guests. Today it isn;t a hotel anymore. The name Douglas Dict Scott now is taken by a interior decoration company.
Directions: Across the street from the old courthouse.
Innercourt of the old courthouse
We are now slowly getting towards the last few streets of our walk, but will see a magnificent place in the innercourt of the old courthouse. The house itself is beautiful, but within the innercourt where a small garden is very accurately made, it is a true paradise. It actually is not a frequently visited place as it is little of the walks that go between the "Grote markt", the "Veemarkt" and the "Beguinages".
Directions: Return from the smal beguinage to the K. de Deckerstraat and proceed until the "Schoutetstraat" appears on the right. On the right side you pass the old courthouse.
The green spots within the small beguinage
Mechelen is one of the few towns in Belgium that actually still has two beguinages. Not far from the large and first beguinage, you can find the second, smaller, newer and especially greener. In several places along the walls, ivy is climbing up the roofs and making the place look wonderful. Silence is also here a "trademark" and now-a-days there are many small appartments available in this small beguinage, preferably for elderly people.
Directions: Walk back to the Sint Katelijne church and pass it on the left side. Take the small "Kerkstraatje" left, then right into the K. de Deckerstr. to again go right ...
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