Difference between revisions of "Mechelen"
Revision as of 11:20, 9 September 2007
Mechelen  is a historically important city located on the river Dyle in the center of Flanders, one of the three regions in Belgium. It lies about halfway between Antwerp and Brussels and has approximately 75,000 inhabitants.
Though now in the shadow of Brussels, Mechelen is a historically important city in its own right. From 1506 to 1530 it was the capital of the Netherlands under Margaret of Austria. In 1559 it became an archbishopric, a sign of great importance. It was famous for its wood carvings, some of which can still be seen in the churches of the city, and for lace and tapestry manufacture.
Today it is a vibrant town, mixing trendy and traditional. Its carillon school is world-renowned, training students from all over the world in the art of playing carillons, sets of 6 or 8 bells hung in church towers. Shops downtown are often housed in buildings with the old-style Flemish architecture, but offer edgy fashions sure to appeal to the younger generation.
Mechelen is developing into the center of non-profit or non-governmental organisations for Flanders. Some famous examples are Natuurpunt, AFS, the Red Cross, ... This is mainly because it's very easily reachable (by train or by highway) but not as expensive as Brussels.
Inhabitants are called "Maneblussers" (moon-firemen). The story goes that one day long time ago the moonlight was shining on the unfinished St.-Romboutstoren and that some people thought it was burning. The whole city was mobilised to extinguish the fire but there was no fire to extinguish.
You can also reach by taking a bus from Antwerp.
Mechelen lies at the E19-highway.
Just outside the main train station you'll find a bus station with connections to many places in the vicinity.
The city center is about 15 minutes walk from the train station. Mechelen is a very compact city, so you can reach most places on foot. There are a few bus routes through and radiating from the city center in case you need them.
The city code for Mechelen is 15.
Mechelen had some problems with some youthgroups. There is no immediate threath if you stay on touristic routes, but certain neighbourhoods are to be avoided at night. The city used to have one of the highest criminality rates of Flanders. Since 2003 the city is reviving again. Nowadays, it is safe to walk through Mechelen. The city has improved much over the last years. Don't worry, just enjoy!