For the last year or so, I kept postponing visiting Mechelen so I decided to fix that last month. Not that I ever had a proper reason but you know how it goes. Something always gets in the way and becomes the priority. But in July, I randomly thought of Mechelen and impulsively decided to visit it for a day. By train, it takes me a bit over two hours to arrive there so I was worried about cramming all of my plans in such a short amount of time. As it turns out, Mechelen is a small city that you can totally explore on foot. In fact, I found myself crossing everything off my list only four hours after my arrival!

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

I was mostly interested in the architecture that caught my eye years ago. Being a Flemish city, Mechelen can be compared to Ghent, Leuven and Bruges with its adorable houses. But while all of them are comparable, they are all still so unique and different from one another. My first stop in Mechelen was Haverwerf, a group of 16th and 17th-century houses where oats and grain used to be unloaded and traded. The trademarks of Flemish architecture are immediately visible, from the shapes to the decorative elements. Not to get all nerdy about that, I’ll just add that I adore Belgium being filled with such lovely architecture! It must be so visually pleasing to look at this every day.

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

I’m not going to lie, I was most looking forward to the two beguinagesA beguinage, from the French term béguinage, is an architectural complex which was created to house beguines: lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world.. Photos never do them justice because they require you to explore every little corner and they always turn out bigger than expected. I headed to the larger one first, the Groot Begijnhof, and was immediately delighted. There were so many hidden courtyards and stunning doors wreathed with plants and flowers.

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

The supposedly smaller beguinage, the Klein Begijnhof, didn’t seem that small after all. I spent so much time discovering all the hidden alleys of both beguinages and I still feel like I missed out on some! The atmosphere in these places is always peaceful. So much so that it feels like you stepped into a new city! It was a warm and sunny day and after all that exploring, I needed a break. So I chose to go to Foom for some refreshments and much needed shade.

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

I was also looking forward to seeing the main square with all its gingerbread houses. And I wasn’t disappointed, especially because all of it seemed to be a pedestrian zone. Aside from bicycles, but you can’t not have that in Flanders! I was particularly enchanted by the facades along the IJzerenleen street, the street connecting to the main square. You can see them below the photos of the Grote Markt. One more unique after the other, I would have a hard time choosing my favorite!

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

All in all, I spent around four hours wandering through Mechelen and I couldn’t believe I was done with my visit. The only thing I missed out on was the Ursuline Winter Garden but that was due to opening hours. Well, if nothing else, it’s a great reason to return to Mechelen sometime in the future!

Summer day in Mechelen

Summer day in Mechelen

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