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Mechelen (English traditionally Mechlin, French Malines, German Mecheln) is a municipality located in Belgium, Flemish region, province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises the city of Mechelen proper and the villages of Heffen , Hombeek , Leest , Muizen and Walem . On January 1st, 2004 Mechelen had a total population of 76,981 (37,465 males and 39,516 females). The total area is 65.19 km² which gives a population density of 1,180.91 inhabitants per km².


The area of Mechelen was first settled on the banks of the river Dijle during the Gallo-Roman period as evidenced by several Roman ruins and roads. The settlement declined during the 3rd-4th century and the area became inhabited by pagan Germanic tribes, who were converted to Christianity by the Irish missionary St Rombold , (Rombout in Dutch), who also built a monastery.

The highly lucrative cloth trade gained Mechelen wealth and power during the late middle-ages and it even became the capital of the Netherlands in the first half of the 16th century under Margaret of Austria's reign.

The city entered the industrial age in the 19th century, becoming the hub of the Belgian railway network, with the first train linking Brussels with Mechelen in 1835. This led to a development of metalworking industries, among others the central railway workshops which are still located in the town today. Another traditional Mechelen industry was furniture making. The area around Mechelen is famous for the culture of vegetables, among which asparagus and cauliflower. The Mechelse koekoek is a local poultry breed, fleshy chickens with black and white feathers which extend on the bird's legs, with colours reminescent of a cuckoo, hence the name.

The city is famous for the Mechlin lace.

Mechelen is home of two of the oldest Belgian football clubs: Racing Mechelen and K.V. Mechelen, both founded in 1904 and now playing in Belgium's third division.

Places of interest

  • The St. Rombolds Cathedral
  • The Brusselpoort , last remaining of the city's twelve gates.
  • The Jewish Museum of Deportation and the Resistance
  • The animal park Planckendael in Muizen

External links

  • Official website - Only available in Dutch
  • Mechlin Lace
  • Jewish Museum of Deportation and the Resistance
  • Restauratie Integratie Mechelen a local heritage conservation organisation (Website in Dutch with English summary page)

Antwerp: | Aartselaar | Antwerp | Boechout | Boom | Borsbeek | Brasschaat | Brecht | Edegem | Essen | Hemiksem | Hove | Kalmthout | Kapellen | Kontich | Lint | Malle | Mortsel | Niel | Ranst | Rumst | Schelle | Schilde | Schoten | Stabroek | Wijnegem | Wommelgem | Wuustwezel | Zandhoven | Zoersel | Zwijndrecht |
Mechelen: | Berlaar | Bonheiden | Bornem | Duffel | Heist-op-den-Berg | Lier | Mechelen | Nijlen | Putte | Puurs | Sint-Amands | Sint-Katelijne-Waver | Willebroek
Turnhout: | Arendonk | Baarle-Hertog | Balen | Beerse | Dessel | Geel | Grobbendonk | Herentals | Herenthout | Herselt | Hoogstraten | Hulshout | Kasterlee | Laakdal | Lille | Meerhout | Merksplas | Mol | Olen | Oud-Turnhout | Ravels | Retie | Rijkevorsel | Turnhout | Vorselaar | Vosselaar | Westerlo |

Last updated: 02-26-2005 12:57:45