Mechelen is a city in the Belgian (Flanders) province of Antwerp and is located between Antwerp and Brussels.
According to archeological research there have been settlements dating from around 500 BC in the area of the current city center. During archeological excavations, several items from the Roman and Frankish periods were found. According to legend, Saint Rombout came to Mechelen in 756 to found an abbey and convert the local people to Christianity; Saint Rombout died a martyr’s death in 775.
From the 11th century onwards the history of the city is clearer. The prince-bishopric of Liege acquired several privileges in certain communities on the banks of the river Dijle which cuts through the city. Around the year 1200, the prince-bishopric of Liege conceded Mechelen to the Duke of Brabant. Because of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (1302), the city again returned to the prince-bishopric of Liege. It then became the property of Louis of Male, Count of Flanders. A marriage between the daughter of the Count of Flanders and Philip the Bold put Mechelen under Bourgondic rule. The governance of Philip the Good was a glorious period for Mechelen. During his rule, the first stones of Saint Rombout’s Cathedral were laid.
Due to its loyalty to Regent Maximilian of Austria, Mechelen became a county in 1490. Margarita of Austria had a royal court in Mechelen. Mechelen became the capital of the Netherlands. When during the 18th century the royal court was moved to Brussels, Mechelen lost its importance. During the 19th century, an important railway hub was constructed.
Today Mechelen is an important cultural city with a lot industrial activity and is known mostly for its beautiful cathedral that dominates the city and its surrounding regions.