Mechelen (locally pronounced [ˈmɛ.çə.lə(n)] (listen), 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 axisBrussels-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
In spring, a legendary holy statue of Our Lady is the main feature in the Procession of Hanswijk.
Informally, many Mechlinians (in DutchMechelaars 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.
The brewery Het Anker, home of the Gouden Carolus beer
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.
The Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance next to the Casern Dossin, built in the 18th century by Queen Maria Theresa of Austria, "Ruler of the Austrian Netherlands".
Technopolis, center for hands-on Science and Technology.
The Toy Museum at Nekkerspoel (see under External links)
The animal park Planckendael in Muizen (see under External links)
The Kruidtuin or "Botanique" inner city park with marble statue of the world famous 16th century herbalistRembert Dodoens alias Dodonæus; the wooded Vrijbroek recreational park with around June its outstanding Rose Gardens and in summer its Dahlia Garden; the Tivoli Park with Children's Farm
Places less accessible or outstanding, or contrarily of a more particular interest:
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.
The Clock Museum, also known as the Watchmakers' Museum
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.
Many interesting facades along an easy walk from AB-straat by Katelijnestraat towards the Grote Markt, just behind the Schepenhuis turn right along IJzerenleen and before the Grootbrug (bridge) again right to the Vismarkt, always maintain left along a few curves and across the Kraanbrug (bridge) on the Haverwerf, pass the renewed complex of the former Lamot brewery; from the Grootbrug have a look on the river but stay on this bank: turn right onto the Zoutwerf till De Zalm (The Salmon), originally House of the Fishermans' Guild, tread back and turn left to the Korenmarkt where minor traces of an early cloth hall remain: a 12th–13th century wall and ditch held Mechelen on this side of the river.
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. 
^ abcFootnote: 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.
^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.
^"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.