Mechelen is a city of many historic churches, eight are promoted as places worthy a visit. We each picked a church of our wish list, for Mr C it was Church of our Lady Hanswidj and for me it was Beguinage Church and between us we decided to include Church of Our Lady Across the Dyle.
After breakfast our first port of call was Church of our Lady Hanswidj. From the outside it doesn’t look much because it is surrounded by buildings. The inside is spectacular and we felt blessed that we were able to visit. The church is closing for restoration at the beginning of April. It will be closed for four years!
We then strolled through the botanic garden and saw the church from the other side. We gradually made our way back to the town so that we could visit a chocolate shop to buy some gifts.
The lady in the chocolate shop was very helpful and she guided us through the differences between the boxes and chocolates within them. All the boxes looked beautiful but the ones described as gift boxes held less chocolates. She also helped us to choose a bespoke box of chocolates for someone who has nut allergies.
She asked how long we were staying and if we had seen the carnival which she explained was a local custom (mainly for the children). She then went on to tell us about an excellent magazine (just published) that covered the places of interest and the history of Mechelen. She regretted not being able to give us a copy because they had all been taken during the carnival. She showed us her copy and it was the magazine I had picked up from the toy museum the previous day.
After dropping the chocolates off at the hotel we had lunch and then walked to the Beguinage church. It is currently covered with scaffolding and not very inviting from the outside but inside it is full of amazing artworks and treasures. As in the previous church the custodian was very proud of the church and keen to explain a few features in English. The literature only comes in Dutch (Flemish) and French. We got by with the French version. In both cases they were pleased to see us, they don’t get many English (British) visitors.
We then visited Church of Our Lady Across the Dyle. We picked up a French leaflet to guide us round the church and I asked the custodian (who didn’t speak much English) if it was alright to take photographs. He said yes and then rushed me across the whole length of the church at great speed. I wondered where he was taking me… A nice view perhaps? No… he took me to a place where I should not use flash and then he indicated that flash photography was allowable everywhere else. For various reasons I never use flash for my photographs in churches and cathedrals.
We then made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner, visiting a book shop along the way. When I was back at the hotel I packed my case ready for departure the following morning. As I left the hotel for my evening meal a small bear hitched a ride in my bag…
After our evening meal we had the obligatory nightcap before retiring to bed.