Around the Grote Markt, Mechelen
A number of attractions are gathered around the Grote Markt.
Sint-Katelijnestraat leads from the cathedral to the Gothic Sint-Katelijnekerk northwest of the market. This church, which was created in the style of the Scheldt and Dender Gothic mainly between the 13th and 15th C., has a Joseph altar by Fayd'herbe and Baroque choirstalls.
Sint-Katelijnekerk is situated between the Smaller and the Greater Béguinages. The Greater Béguinage was set up in 1350 and the present houses along the narrow streets date from the 16th and 18th C.
To the east of the Smaller Béguinage we pass the Refuge of the Abbey of Tongerlo and shortly afterwards on the right come to the Refuge of the Abbey of Sint-Truiden. Just to the right of the Wool Market there is the most secluded little square in the town, from which there is an attractive view of the buildings of the refuges on the edge of a little canal.
Just right of the Refuge of Sint-Truiden stands the Gothic Sint-Janskerk (15th C.) which also houses notable works of art. Among these pride of place goes to a winged altar by Rubens ("The Adoration of the Kings") painted in 1617-1619, one of his most beautiful works and for which his wife Isabella Brant sat as the model for the Virgin Mary. Also of note are various woodcarvings by Theodoor Verhaegen (17th C.) on the pulpit, in the choir and on the pews in the transepts, as well as a wall shrine for the Reliquary of St John by Fayd'herbe.
Not far from the church we come to the Hof van Busleyden an attractive Gothic brick building of 1507 with a flower-decked inner courtyard and a belfry. The buildings, which were renovated after the First World War, house the Town Museum of Mechelen with departments of Civic History, Arts and Crafts and Customs, a selection of pictures and a carillon museum.The little house in the corner is the carillon school.
The Biest road leading eastwards from the museum finishes at the Veemarkt. Here stands the Sint-Pieter-en-Pauluskerk the former monastic church of the Jesuits, who came to Mechelen at the beginning of the 17th C. and built their church between 1670 and 1677. The final portion of the facade was only added in the 18th C.
Paleis van Margareta van York
Paleis van Margareta van Ostenrijk
Opposite the Paleis van Margareta van York extends a complex of buildings with a large arcaded courtyard which was once the Hof van Savoye, the palace of the Stadholder (governor) Margareta of Austria, then of the Cardinal de Granville. From 1616-1794 it was the seat of the Great Council and from 1796 onwards a Palace of Justice.Around the courtyard the oldest parts were built between 1503 and 1507 by Rombout Kelderman; the part along Keizerstraat was also the work of Kelderman and of Guyot de Beaugrant and is one of the earliest examples of Belgian Renaissance.
Further east of the Mechelen town center on the far side of the railroad line, the Speelgoedmuseum exhibits old and new toys and objects of folk-art.A collection of toys displayed in 30 departments in a 7000sq meter, fairy-like atmosphere.
Address: Nekkerspoel 21, B-2800 Mechelen, Belgium
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €6.00, Group discounts €5.50, Child 12 & under €3.80
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Transit: Station Mechelen Nekkerspoel.
Typical Visit: 2 hours
Map of Mechelen Attractions