Mechelen

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Mechelen
Municipality of Belgium
Mechelen City Hall

Flag

Coat of arms
Mechelen is located in Belgium
Mechelen
Location in Belgium
Coordinates: 51°01′N 04°28′E / 51.017°N 4.467°E / 51.017; 4.467Coordinates: 51°01′N 04°28′E / 51.017°N 4.467°E / 51.017; 4.467
CountryBelgium
CommunityFlemish Community
RegionFlemish Region
ProvinceAntwerp
ArrondissementMechelen
Government
 • MayorBart Somers (VLD)
 • Governing party/iesVLD, CD&V, Groen!, N-VA, Ind.
Area
 • Total33.71 km2 (13.02 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2012)[1]
 • Total82,325
 • Density2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Postal codes2800, 2801, 2811, 2812
Area codes015–03
Websitewww.mechelen.be
 
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Mechelen
Municipality of Belgium
Mechelen City Hall

Flag

Coat of arms
Mechelen is located in Belgium
Mechelen
Location in Belgium
Coordinates: 51°01′N 04°28′E / 51.017°N 4.467°E / 51.017; 4.467Coordinates: 51°01′N 04°28′E / 51.017°N 4.467°E / 51.017; 4.467
CountryBelgium
CommunityFlemish Community
RegionFlemish Region
ProvinceAntwerp
ArrondissementMechelen
Government
 • MayorBart Somers (VLD)
 • Governing party/iesVLD, CD&V, Groen!, N-VA, Ind.
Area
 • Total33.71 km2 (13.02 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2012)[1]
 • Total82,325
 • Density2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Postal codes2800, 2801, 2811, 2812
Area codes015–03
Websitewww.mechelen.be

Mechelen (locally pronounced [ˈmɛ.çə.lə(n)] ( ), French Malines, traditional English Mechlin[n 1]) is a Dutch-speaking city and municipality in the province of Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium. The municipality comprises the city of Mechelen proper, some quarters at its outskirts, the hamlets of Nekkerspoel (adjacent) and Battel (a few kilometers away), as well as the villages of Walem, Heffen, Leest, Hombeek, and Muizen. The Dijle flows through the city, hence it is often referred to as the Dijlestad ("City on the river Dijle").

Mechelen lies on the major urban and industrial axis Brussels-Antwerp, about 25 km from each city. Inhabitants find employment at Mechelen's southern industrial and northern office estates, as well as at offices or industry near the capital and Zaventem Airport, or at industrial plants near Antwerp's seaport.

Mechelen is one of Flanders' prominent cities of historical art, with Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, and Leuven. It was notably a centre for artistic production during the Northern Renaissance, when painters, printmakers, illuminators and composers of polyphony were attracted by patrons such as Margaret of York, Margaret of Austria and Jeroen Van Busleyden.[2]

History[edit]

Mechelen: Grote Markt (Large Market square), St. Rumbold's Cathedral
Mechelen on the Ferraris map (around 1775)

Archaeological proof of habitation during the La Tène era in the triangle Brussels-Leuven-Antwerp, mainly concentrated around Mechelen which originated in wetlands, includes an 8.4 metre long canoe cut from an oak tree trunk and a settlement of about five wooden houses, at Nekkerspoel.[3]

The area of Mechelen was settled on the banks of the river during the Gallo-Roman period as evidenced by several Roman ruins and roads. Upon Rome's declining influence, during 3rd–4th centuries the area became inhabited by Germanic tribes, a few centuries later Christianized assumedly by the Irish or Scottish missionary St. Rumbold, (Rombout in Dutch), who would have also built a monastery.

Around 1200 started the building of the cathedral that is dedicated to the saint.

Antwerp lost profitable stapelrechten (rights as first seller) for wool, oats and salt to Mechelen in 1303 when John II, Duke of Brabant, granted City rights to the town. This started a rivalry between these cities that would last well into the 20th century.

In the 15th century, the city came under the rule of the Dukes of Burgundy, marking the beginning of a prosperous period. In 1473 Charles the Bold moved several political bodies to the city, and Mechelen served as the seat of the Superior Court until the French Revolution. In 1490, a regular postal service between Mechelen and Innsbruck was established.

The highly lucrative cloth trade gained Mechelen wealth and power during the Late Middle Ages and it even became the capital of the Low Countries (very roughly the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) in the first half of the 16th century under Archduchess Margaret of Austria.

During the 16th century the city's political influence decreased dramatically, due to many governmental institutions being moved to Brussels. Mechelen compensated for this by increasing prominence in the religious arena: in 1559 it was proclaimed the Archdiocese of Mechelen, seat of religious authority over the territory that would eventually became Belgium. In 1961, "Brussels" was added to the title, resulting in the current Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels.

Mechelen also retained further relevance as the Great Council of Mechelen remained the supreme court of the territory until the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1572, during the Eighty Years' War, the city was burned and sacked by the Spanish. After this pillaging, the city was rebuilt. It was during this time that the tradition of furniture making, still seen today, began. In 1781, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, ordered the destruction of the city's fortified walls – their former location however continues to be referred to in the Latin terms intra muros (within the walls) and extra muros (outside), and meanwhile the site became that of the inner ring road.[4]

The city entered the industrial age in the 19th century. In 1835, the first railway on the European continent linked Brussels with Mechelen, which became the hub of the Belgian railway network. This led to a development of metalworking industries, among others the central railway workshops which are still located in the town today. During World War II, the extensive Mechlinian[n 1] railway structure had caused the Nazi occupation forces to choose Mechelen for their infamous transit camp.

Several famous meetings on the Christian religion are connected to the name of the city. One in 1909 is thought to have inaugurated the Liturgical Movement. Between 1921 and 1925 a series of unofficial conferences, known as the Malines Conversations,[n 1] presided over by Cardinal Mercier and attended by Anglican divines and laymen, including Lord Halifax, was the most significant of early attempts at the reconciliation between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.

Local fame[edit]

Folklore[edit]

Statue of Neptune in Mechelen. The statue is also called Vadderik (lazy fat man). It is part of a water fountain erected in 1718. It was made by Frans Langhemans, a sculptor from Mechelen, at the behest of the city council. The inscription reads SPQM or Senatus Populusque Mechliensis (the council and population of Mechlin).

Most cities in Flanders have a mock name for their inhabitants. Since 1687, for their heroic attempt to fight the fire high up in the Saint-Rumbold's Tower, where the gothic windows had shown the flaring of only the moon between clouds, Mechlinians have been called Maneblussers (moon extinguishers).

Once every 25 years, a Parade, the Ommegang, commemorates both the arrival of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, father of Archduchess Margaret of Austria, and also other major events of the city's past. The Ommegang had an extra edition in 2000 for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Charles V. This cortege shows the city's six 15th–17th-century Giants and other serious and humoresque puppets and carts, all typically made on a huge scale, and has been UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2005.

The city's 17th-century wooden mascot, which since 1775 has been called Opsinjoorke 'the doll', is pulled about on a sheet as part of the Ommegang. Nowadays, it is the replica that is so pulled around the city. A recent bronze statue depicting the Opsinjoorke stands in front of the Belfry.

The annual parade of carts decorated with flowers (comparable to that of Blankenberge for Mechlinian florists still prepare up to half of decorations), and with vegetables, – all of which are local to the area—has been indefinitely canceled since the beginning of the 21st century due to lack of financing by the City.[5]

In spring, a legendary holy statue of Our Lady is the main feature in the Procession of Hanswijk.

Dialect[edit]

Informally, many Mechlinians (in Dutch Mechelaars and locally pronounced Mecheleirs, people from this city) daily speak Mechlinian (in Dutch as well as locally Mechels), a dialect by Dutch-speakers of Belgium pin-pointingly distinct from other Brabantic dialects by three different vowels of Dutch (as in zout or rauw, in kei or bijl, in nu) being typically pronounced as a same vowel – close to the one in English 'raw' which does not appear in other dialects of the Flemish Region or in standard Dutch. Since 1995, a subscribers' quarterly, 'De Mecheleir', shows old photographs of Mechelen and has stories on the local history as well as a few columns written mimicking the dialect, for which no spelling is generally determined.[6]

Specialties[edit]

The brewery Het Anker, home of the Gouden Carolus beer

Historically famous Mechlinian trades: laken (woollen cloth), tapestries, cordwain, Mechlin lace (precious bobbin lace, already from the early 18th century), wood carving and sculpturing, furniture.

Mechelen was at the heart of the revival of the carillon in the early 20th century, and hosts its principal school in the world to this day.[7][8]

The area around Mechelen is famous for the cultivation of vegetables, among which Belgian endive (witloof), asparagus and cauliflower. Founded in the city, the Mechelse Veilingen in neighbouring Sint-Katelijne-Waver is the largest co-operative vegetable auction in Europe.[9]

One of the four breeds of the Belgian Sheepdog is the local Malinois. The Mechelse koekoek is a local poultry breed, fleshy chickens with black and white feathers which extend on the bird's legs, with colours reminiscent of a cuckoo, hence the name.

Mechelsen Bruynen was allegedly the emperor Charles V's favourite beer. A version is still brewed in the city at Het Anker brewery.

Sports[edit]

Home of two of the oldest Belgian football clubs, founded in 1904: K.R.C. Mechelen and K.V. Mechelen. The latter contributed to the international glamour of the city by winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup in 1988. The number of lesser local teams shows this sport's popularity: Rapid Leest, Sporting Mechelen, Leest Utd., VV Leest, Walem, SK.Heffen, Zennester Hombeek, FC Muizen. In 1985, the city hosted the Flatwater Canoe Racing World Championships.

Places of interest[edit]

St. Rumbold's Cathedral
city gate: de Brusselpoort
't Groen Waterke
Dyle Bridge at Mechelen (ca. 1919)
by Louis Dewis
  • The Refuge of Sint-Truiden and the Refuge of Tongerlo, retreat mansions for distant abbeys, the latter now housing the Manufacturer De Wit which restores the finest tapestries, for which Flanders was famous in the 16th century.
  • 't Groen Waterke, a picturesque small remnant of bygone canals – in particular of the Melaan, of which a longer stretch was after more than a century uncovered in 2007.
  • A stone pillar De Mijlpaal, now prominent in front of the station, had marked the nearby destination point of the first passenger train ride on the continent. The name was adopted by the railway workers' club for miniature model trains, and by a small museum housed in one of the oldest railroad buildings commemorates the historical event and consequent local industry of national importance.[11]
  • The Clock Museum, also known as the Watchmakers' Museum
  • The Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn" where carillonneurs come from around the world to study the carillon and playing of the instrument. In fine rococo house 'The ship'.
  • The Theravada Buddhist place of worship Wat Dhammapateep (Temple of the Flame of Truth or Reality as taught by the Enlightened One) has since 2005 on its grounds an in China beautifully sculptured Buddha seated on a soccle, both in dark green granite – the tallest granite Buddha statue in Europe.
  • There are over 300 protected monuments in Mechelen.[12]

Police[edit]

The city of Mechelen uses ANPR cameras since September 2011 to check all inbound and outbound cars against a database of stolen, non-insured and cars listed for other reasons. In case of a positive match, an alarm is generated in the dispatching room, enabling the police to quickly intercept the car. Mechelen was one of the first cities in Belgium to use ANPR on this scale. As of early 2012, 1 million cars per week are checked in this way. Mechelen started this project with SAIT Zenitel. [13]

Famous inhabitants[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Footnote: Mechelen became known in English as 'Mechlin' from which the adjective 'Mechlinian' is derived. Though this name was never entirely forgotten in English and may still be used mainly for a traditional or historical note, the city's name had become reintroduced in the English language by its French name 'Malines': The Southern Netherlands had been annexed by France by the end of the eighteenth century (1795–1815), and French was the single official language in early Belgium and remained dominant in Belgian diplomacy during most of the twentieth century. As elsewhere in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, though less than in cities like Ghent and Antwerp, the Mechlinian bourgeoisie had largely adopted French and French shop names are found on old postcards and photographs of 'Malines'. While this trend was reversed (or shop names in English appeared) and the Dutch language gained full recognition in Belgium, the English language gradually readopted the native name 'Mechelen' which became again the usual name in English during the second half of the twentieth century, this time spelled as in Dutch. In the third official language of Belgium, German, the city is named 'Mecheln'. Its names in French, in Spanish ('Malinas'), and in neo-Latin ('Machlinia' or 'Mechlinia') resemble an early tenth century recording as 'Maslinas' in Latin, predating the actual city, while its vicinity was a detached possession of the bishopric of Liège. Amongst the many other language and spelling variants during its history, the city may have been referred to as Malina, Maalinas, Machlines, Machlinia, Maclines, Maglinia, Magliniensis, Malinensis, Malisnacensis, Maslinas, Mechlineensis, Mechlinensis, Mechlinia, Mechliniensis, Mechlinium, Meclinia, and Meglinia.
    A 'Mechlinian' is an inhabitant of this city or someone seen as born-and-raised there; the term is also the name of the city dialect; as an adjective 'Mechlinian' may refer to the city or to its dialect.
  2. ^ The birth date of Anne Boleyn is uncertain. From the spring of 1513 to the autumn of 1514, as daughter of a high ranked diplomat she lived either in Margaret's palace, as the later Charles Quint, if she would have been nearly his age; or just across the street in Margaret of York's palace if significantly younger. Margaret of Austria affectionately referred to Anne as "la Petite Boleyn" during a formative stage in her upbringing at the court.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Population per municipality on 1 January 2012 (XLS; 214 KB)
  2. ^ Annual review 2007 Flemish Foreign Affairs - see 13. The art cities action plan, Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs - Departement Internationaal Vlaanderen, May 2008, p. 22, retrieved 2012-10-31 ,
      (brochure), Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs, 10 April 2008, retrieved 2009-10-19, "In terms of international tourism, the emphasis lies on six magnificent historic and geographically concentrated cities of art : Brussels, Antwerpen, Brugge, Gent, Leuven and Mechelen" [dead link],
      Ontwerp van decreet houdende het Vlaams cultureel-erfgoedbeleid - stuk 1588 (2011-2012) – Nr. 1 ingediend op 2 mei 2012 (2011-2012) (in Dutch), Flemish Parliament, 2012, pp. 4–5, retrieved 2012-10-31, "The five so-called art cities having a high density of cultural heritage across all types of work (Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Leuven and Mechelen) ... these cities have a long tradition in developing and substantiating a local cultural heritage."  (quote translated)
  3. ^ (Dutch) "Virtueel museum: De metaaltijden". archeoweb Mechelen. Retrieved 27 January 2007. 
  4. ^ (Dutch) "Map created c.1781 to depict which strategical defence structures had to be broken down". beeldbankmechelen.be. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  5. ^ (Dutch) ,,Bloemencorso moet terugkomen" Afgevoerde Mechelse bloementraditie leeft voort in Blankenberge journal Het Nieuwsblad, 26 August 2005
  6. ^ De Mecheleir vzw Mechelen 2000+, subscribers' quarterly published by J. Somers, Mechelen
  7. ^ "Royal Carillon School 'Jef Denyn' Mechelen – International High Institute for Carillon Art and Campanology". vzw Koninklijke Beiaardschool Jef Denyn, Mechelen. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "10 Juni 2005 – Besluit van de Vlaamse Regering houdende de organisatie en de financiering van de Koninklijke Beiaardschool Jef Denyn in Mechelen" (in Dutch). Belgisch Staatsblad (republished online by vzw Koninklijke Beiaardschool Jef Denyn, Mechelen). 16 August 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Mechelse Veilingen website – navigate 'The Company' or read here [1]
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ (Dutch) Railway industrial archeology museum De Mijlpaal
  12. ^ "Mechelen – a unique experience" (PDF). on www.visitflanders.co.uk – K. Vancraeynest D/2005/0797/061 supported by City of Mechelen, Province of Antwerp, Tourism Flanders. 10 June 2005. Retrieved 27 January 2007. 
  13. ^ "ANPR in Mechelen". Belgium. 

Literature[edit]

External links[edit]