A Weekend Away in Mechelen

A Weekend Away in MechelenMy recent journey to and from Mechelen by train including Eurostar was enjoyable and relaxing.  We had the luxury of being served with meals and drinks on both inward and outward journeys.  On arrival in Mechelen we quickly unpacked our bags before setting off to explore the city.  The Eyewitness Travel Guide to Belgium and Luxembourg states that the historic city of Mechelen, on the River Dijle, has exceptional charm.  It was easy to see why.  During my stay one thing I couldn’t help but notice was the abundance of bicycles both with and without riders.  I will always remember Mechelen as the city of bicycles.

You may recall from my last V&V post that I had fallen in love with a hotel (Martin’s Patershof) which led to us choosing Mechelen as a destination.  The hotel lived up to expectations.  Architectural features and stained glass windows are prominent throughout the hotel and our room had a stained glass window and stone pillars.  The breakfast room is quite stunning being situated in what was the choir of the church.  The breakfast buffet was one of the best I have ever seen.  There was even a decadent option of having a complimentary glass of Cava; I decided not to indulge so early in the morning.

Although this hotel is no longer a place of worship there are many historic churches still in use and eight are promoted as especially worthy of a visit. St Rumbold’s Cathedral with its wonderful architecture, artworks and stained glass windows was on our ‘to visit’ list but it was difficult to decide which others to include.  We settled on the Beguinage Church (which we found to be full of amazing artworks and treasures), Church of our Lady Hanswidj (whilst there we learned that it would shut for renovations in just two weeks’ time for four years), and the Church of our Lady across the Dyle. The custodians of each of the churches were very proud of their churches and keen to point out the special features of each to us. Being English we were somewhat of a novelty to them, with Mechelen not being an obvious choice for English travelers.

Mechelen played a sobering part in the history of WW2 so the Kazerne Dossin museum and military barracks were also on our ‘to visit’ list.  The barracks and museum serve as a permanent history and memorial to the Jews who were held there awaiting deportation.  I found the museum thought provoking.  It serves as a poignant reminder that atrocities still occur today and invites the visitor to ask questions and look for answers.  Alongside the barracks is a restored railway goods wagon that had been used to transport the Jews from the barracks to Auschwitz Birkenau.

We visited many other things of interest; the garden of the former palace of Margaret of Austria, an art exhibition of the work of Rik Wouters which is housed in the Schepenhuis,  the toy museum, the Beguinages and we strolled through the botanic garden to see the ancient wooden fulling mill.  We were even lucky enough to find ourselves next to the Grote Markt when the annual carnival was in full flow.

No visit to Belgium is complete without sampling some chocolate.  We came home with a box for ourselves and some as gifts.  The lady in the shop guided us through the different options and helped us to choose a bespoke collection for someone who has nut allergies.  The delicious chocolates are sadly already gone…

I enjoyed my stay in Mechelen and the Hotel Patershof; there is more than a passing chance that I may return there one day 😉

You can read the unabridged version of my travels in the following links; Mechelen Day One, Mechelen Day Two, Mechelen Day Three, Mechelen Day Four and Mechelen Day Five. I am currently writing up on the details and history of the places that I visited.

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3 thoughts on “A Weekend Away in Mechelen

  1. What a delight and how fortunate you are. Within easy reach of ‘home’ for you are a huge number of splendid places teeming with heritage. It is something I miss. The picture you show is almost ‘mundane’ in such a well-architectured Europe (although not in the slightest mundane in itself) and to the starving eye is one to pour over. All those facades.

    • I am very fortunate that I am near so many places with rich heritage. I try to to advantage of that as often as i can.

      It is difficult to find the perfect picture to portray Mechelen. The town hall really needs including, but it is behind me at the opposite end of the Grote Markt. When I zoomed into those facades there were many things not noticed on a casual glance. A wild boar (in stone) sitting atop one of the roof tops, stone lions and a strange depiction of the Manneken-Pis with angel wings…

      From the outside the Cathedral is imposing and Inside is a delight…

      Some of my Cathedral photos:

      Christ on the Cross

      My photos of the city are not complete, they are still being added to. They can be found here:

      P1070128_edited-1
  2. How absolutely magical. Thank you.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSoosie

    I think you’ve found a calling as a tour guide! Love learning about all the places you visit. Thank-you for this armside tour of Mechelen.
    May 1, 2014 | Registered CommenterMarcie

    I rarely have time to visit everyone’s personal blog, but I’m glad I hopped on over to yours this morning to see more photos from your trip. Thanks for sharing.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

    Always wonderful to get first hand accounts of visits to other places in the world! Thank you!
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Aka Gotham Girl

    I am so envious that you can hop on a train and be in mainland Europe in a couple of hours! I would love that. And yes Belgian chocolate….mmmm….lucky you Cherry!
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

    Sounds like a trip to remember Cherry. Any cities known for chocolate well, everything else is a bonus! I’d like to walk right into your lovely photo.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElena Caravela

    Cherry I look forward to reading more about your trip so I will click on over. I had a boss who traveled to Belgium often and I always wanted to visit after hearing of her travels and tasting those chocolates. The last box I received was not shared at all, and each bite was savored long. I wish we could travel as easily by rail here. I loathe air travel. But soon I hope to make more short excursions and start exploring.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

    Even though Astrid and I have already met you twice already, Cherry, and will meet up with you again on Sunday the 11th (we are so lucky to live only an hour’s flight from you!), the next time you make it to Mechelen, please let us know!!!! We LOVE that charming city but I can tell you have already seen more of it than we have. We had no clue about your church/hotel till you started writing about it, so we totally missed it. Mechelen is only a 2 hours’ drive away, so next time maybe we can rendezvous with you there. Wouldn’t that be fun…..and you can be our tourist guide. 🙂
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    Lucky you to be able to take such wonderful trips! And you may get to meet up again with Ginny & Astrid, how fun! Thanks so much for sharing here with us.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

    It looks like a storybook village and lucky you, wise you, to take advantage of the history and culture and beauty that surrounds you! Thank you for sharing a piece of it here with us.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

    You are a great guide Cherry! The city looks magical and I appreciate reading the details about your visit. Thank you.
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusie@Life-Change-Compost

    So…you had me at…’a complimentary glass of Cava on the breakfast buffet.’ That just brought such a sense of the place to me. I have to visit it sometime!, And, not just for the Cava (And, please, note, like you, I wouldn’t have it at breakfast, but I would so enjoy the fact that it’s offered!)..So, it’s not just the Cava that draws me in..it’s the history and meaning you’ve brought to life!! Thank you, Cherry!
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJuli

    I am so glad you all enjoyed the virtual journey with me. I should have left you the link to my photos on Flickr although the set is not yet complete, I am adding to them as I do more detailed posts about the places I visit. Belatedly here is the link:

    P1070128_edited-1

    Ginnie I so nearly let you know we would be there this time but I wasn’t sure how far away you were and we weren’t sure of travel (for meet ups) as we were using unknown public transport. I will be sure to let you know next time it would be fun 🙂

    I am looking forward to the 11th 🙂
    May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCherryPie

    It sounds like you had such a fabulous trip, and thanks so much for sharing it with us, I feel like I have visited vicariously. I adore the photo, so much charm and character. I love the idea of traveling by train as well.
    May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

    Love the view in the photo. The architecture that you only see in Europe. It’s nice to be able to do a bit of travel vicariously!
    May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaery Rose

    i am very late to this post, but perhaps there is no late, because i got to learn about a place i only know about from the holocaust history.

    marcie’s right about being a tour guide! you have surely been mine tonight while i come into a hotel in florida after a hard day at the beach!
    May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHoney

    Your post is quite interesting it sounds like a wonderful place to visit and I can see you had a wonderful time there…
    May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterZena (Healingmoments)

    your travel shares make me want to
    dust off my suitcase:)
    thanks for the sweet inspire,
    Jennifer
    May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Richardson

    I envy you for the wonderful train rides. That’s something I truly miss here in the States – it would be lovely to travel this huge country by train!
    May 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarola

    Cherry, to choose something that proves to live up to expectations… what a feast! 🙂

    So much to see and so much to remember… I’ve never been to either Belgium or Luxembourg but the square in your photo somehow reminds me of the Old Town Square in Prague.
    May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPetra

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