Top choice in Northeast Belgium

This soaring, Gothic-vaulted cathedral features a 1723 monumental pulpit, a 1630 Van Dyck crucifixion scene in the south transept, and dozens more fine artworks below the stained-glasswork of the apse. But the most notable feature by far is the 15th-century tower, soaring 97m high and dominating the city skyline.

Climbing its 500-plus steps affords brilliant views but takes at least 40 minutes return, and capacity is limited to 25 people every 20 minutes. So during major holidays you might need to book ahead (through, though check the weather forecast first as the view platform is unsheltered. During the climb you'll see a human treadmill once used to bring up building materials, plus the impressive array of 49 bells that rings out across town during summertime hour-long carillon concerts.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northeast Belgium attractions

1. Op-Sinjoorke Statue

0.05 MILES

Landing on his back with limbs akimbo, the giant yellow character that you see in the grassy contoured space north of St-Romboutskathedraal is Op…

2. Schepenhuis

0.09 MILES

The Schepenhuis is a small castle fantasy dating back to 1288. It became the council parliament for the Burgundian Netherlands from 1473.

3. Het Zotte Kunstkabinet

0.11 MILES

This eccentric little shop-museum is great if you can catch it open, and has some fun with the 'crazy' hell scenes and frolicking odd folk of 16th-century…

4. Stadhuis

0.13 MILES

Balancing the massive bulk of St-Romboutskathedraal across Mechelen's splendid Grote Markt is the contrastingly poetic stadhuis in all its devil-may-care…

5. St-Janskerk

0.15 MILES

Built in white sandstone, the 15th-century Gothic church of the 'two Johns' (Baptist and Evangelist) looks fairly unremarkable from the outside. However,…

6. Tongerlo Refuge

0.18 MILES

In medieval times, abbots from wealthy monasteries would often travel to Mechelen to consult the primate (archbishop) and thus required city residences…

7. De Wit Royal Manufacturers

0.18 MILES

Established in 1889, this workshop is one of the few places in Belgium where you can see contemporary tapestries being woven and antique ones from all…

8. Hof van Busleyden

0.22 MILES

After years of preparation, Mechelen's historical museum should have reopened by the time you read this, offering state-of-the-art interactive exhibits…