Although the smallest of the Flemish art cities, Mechelen is well worth a visit. Situated halfway between Antwerp and Brussels, Mechelen is more compact than these major players, but still has its fair share of wonderful historic buildings and heritage sites. The River Dijle meanders through the city, enclosed by the Zoutwerf (Salt Quay) with its 16th century wooden frontages and the Haverwerf (Oat Quay) with its pastel-coloured decorative facades. There is also the imposing Lamot brewery complex, which nowadays serves as a congress and heritage centre. Beautifully renovated in a daring and contemporary architectural style, it is a classic example of how upgrading industrial archaeology can bring new life to a city. But perhaps the most wellknown sightseeing spot is the proud Saint Rombouts Cathedral; two carillons of bells hang in its 97metre-high tower and are often played by students of the Mechelen carillon school. Another ‘must’ is the former palace of Margaret of Austria. The Netherlands used to be governed from here, but nowadays it is a great place for a quiet stroll.
there is a train connection between Bruges and Mechelen, with a single change of trains in Ghent (Sint-Pieters), Bruxelles-Midi
(Brussels-South) or Bruxelles-Nord (Brussels-North), depending on your day of travel (minimum duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes; www.belgianrail.be).