MECHELEN (MALINES) OF BRUSSEL
Just north of Brussels, Mechelen (pop. 78,000), once the ecclesiastical capital of Belgium, is best known today for its abundance of treasure- filled churches and its grim role in the Holocaust. The stately St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, down Consciencestr. from the Centraal station, features gorgeous stained-glass win dows and the Gothic St. Rumbold’s Tower, which rises 97m over the Grote Markt and houses two carillons (sets of 49 bells) that offer recitals. (Climb the tower July-Aug. M 2:15pm and 7:15pm, Tu-Su 2:15pm; June and Sept. M 7:15pm, Sa-Su and holidays 2:15; ‚2.50. Carillon recitals June-Sept. M 11:30am and 8:30pm, Sa 11:30am, Su 3pm.) Architectural gems, including the Stadhuis (city hall), line the Grote Markt. (Stadhuis open daily July-Aug. Required tour 2pm.) The 15th-century Church of St. John boasts Rubens’s magnificent 17th-century triptych The Adoration of the Magi. (Open Su and T-Sa l:30-5pm.) To reach the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, 153 Goswin de Stassartstr, follow Wollemarkt from behind St. Rumbold’s; it becomes Goswin de Stassartstr. The museum is housed in the 18th-century military barracks used as a temporary holding spot for Jews en route to Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Holocaust. (Open Su-Th 10am-5pm, F 10am-lpm. Free. Tours by request.) The botanical gardens along the Dijje River are a great place to stop for a picnic.