Trains arrive from Brussels (15min. every 5-10min. ‚3.30) and Antwerp (15min. every 5-15min. ‚2.90). The tourist office near the Stadhuis books rooms. ( 015 29 76 55; www.mechelen.be. Open Easter-Oct. M-F 8am-6pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-12:30pm and l:30-5pm; Nov.-Easter reduced hours.) Restaurants cluster around the Grote Markt. Try the white asperge (asparagus), a regional specialty. Postal Code: 2800.

In Flanders, the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, you can sample the nightlife in Antwerp, relax in romantic Bruges, and sate your castle-cravings in Ghent. Histori cally, the mouth of the Schelde River at Antwerp provided the region with a major port, and the production and trade of linen, wool, and diamonds created great pros perity. During it’s Golden Age in the 16th century, Flanders’s commercial centers were among the largest cities in Europe and its innovative artists inspired the Northern Renaissance. Today, the well-preserved cities of Flanders, rich in master ful oil painting and inspiring Gothic architecture, are Belgium’s biggest attractions.


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