Mechelen - the town

Yesterday, Saturday the 27th of February 2016, we travelled to Mechelen (sometimes Mechlin in English) by train –only a 20 minutes journey- to meet a befriended couple. This is the Mechelen-flag, proudly flying from its highest point, the tower of the Sint-Romboutskathedraal (St. Rumbold's Cathedral).

Although the wind was chilly, illustrated by the clothes people are wearing, the sun was shining. Therefore the majority of people having a coffee (or something different…) during the weekly market preferred to sit outside.

We know that this could be qualified as being more of the same. Nevertheless we think that this west-side of the Grote Markt (central market-place) with all its different facades is just lovely.

The statue in the foreground is depicting ‘Opsinjoorke’, a fictitious character as part of the Flemish and especially Mechelen folklore. Opsinjoorke is a short, fat, mustached man. He symbolizes the permanent drunk, beating up his wife. His neighbours throw him in the air for a punishment, using a large cloth, catch him again and so on. A rather mild punishment if you ask us. For more see (only in Dutch). The Sint-Romboutskathedraal is visible in the background. (© Anne Luard.)

Here we’re inside the cathedral, as so many times a real impressive one. Over the years we have dwelled several times upon cathedrals. It’s our choice therefore this time to concentrate on the astounding pulpit, seen here on the right hand side of the nave. The pulpit is a creation by Michiel Vervoort (according to the explanation inside the cathedral, Wikipedia disagrees) and entirely cut out of oak wood.

  • Norbert of Xanten

    A detail, on the lower part of the pulpit, re-enacting the fall from his horse by (Saint) Norbert of Xanten. Wikipedia about this: ‘One day in the spring of 1115, as he rode his horse to Vreden, a nearby village, a thunderbolt from a sudden storm struck at his horse’s feet. The animal threw him and he lay unconscious for nearly an hour. After this near-fatal accident, his faith deepened, he renounced his appointment at Court and returned to Xanten to lead a life of penance.’

  • Frog

    We have no idea whatsoever about the symbolism of this frog. It is, however, a striking little part of the pulpit. (© Anne Luard.)

  • Angel with tools

    A third one. It is the first little angel we’ve seen holding a hammer and a sort of chisel. Not only holding the two, actually using them. Looking at the finish of it all we thought the creator must have been a person with endless patience.

The 97,5 meters (325 feet) high Sint-Romboutstoren (St. Rumbold’s Tower) is of such interest that we’ll do a deservedly separate blog on it.

Of course there are more churches in Mechelen, we’re in a traditional RC-region after all. The town has 9 (8?) churches, one of them being the Begijnhofkerk (Beguinage-church). The church is in the process of being cleaned and restored on the outside. The difference between the upper part, already finished, and the lower part, still dirty and covered by scaffolding, is striking.

The upper part of the front facade in detail. And this, dear reader, is ‘just another church’. In case you have an interest for the inside, see (only Dutch).

The church as shown by the last two pictures was only coincidentally ‘discovered’ on our way to the brewery ‘Het Anker’ (The Anchor), home of the Golden Carolus (Golden Charles) beer, named after Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (who was raised in Mechelen). The last street before reaching the brewery is named Krankenstraat, after ‘Ten Cranken’ an infirmary of the former Large Beguinage (as opposed to a second one, called -you guessed it- the Small(er) Beguinage).

Entering the brewery is not exactly the same as entering heaven, but not far from it self-evidently. See for more about beer – correction: the brewery.

The brewery is equipped with a bar/restaurant too. Even though is does look a bit bleak (the lighting is to blame), in reality there was a home-like atmosphere…

…good food, excellent beer and a friendly staff. We would not hesitate for a second to go there again.

The ship of our friends, called ‘Viator’ (the ship we mean) is moored in the river Dijle, a tributary to the Rupel, the last one being a tributary to de Schelde (Scheldt).

After having had a last coffee on board of the good ‘Viator’ we walked back to the train station by using the walkway that is constructed on/in the river. It is a surprising, almost similar to cruising by ship, view of the town. (© Visitmechelen.)

On the way back towards the train station we saw, according to the unsurpassed Wikipedia on or close to the Haverwerf ( Oatyard), these striking three buildings. The black, middle, one is named “Den Duivel” (The Devil) and the one in the foreground “’t Paradijs” (The Paradise). Is there more room in “Den Duivel” or is that only our imagination?

We do not know of any name, related to the house on the last picture that’s on the left hand side. On top of the ground floor centre-window it says ‘Dit Is In S. Ioseph’ (This is in(side) Saint Joseph). The inevitable conclusion is that in Mechelen the devil is clearly immobilized!

This picture is taken at the other side of the bridge that is visible three pictures back – and the last one for this week as well. We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and hope to meet you again next week. (© Visitmechelen.)