They were once the domain of a group of women who could be called the very first feminists. Today, the Flemish Beguinages still radiate tranquillity and contemplation. Since the 12th century, these places were home to Beguines, unmarried women who dedicated their lives to God. Mechelen is also home to the beautiful Large Beguinage, with its own unique character. Halfway through the 16th century the original Beguinage was destroyed during the Iconoclasm. The Beguines moved to a new place within the city walls. If you step through the stately entrance gate, you will enter a tranquil world, close to the heart of the city.
In addition to Beguinages, churches and a cathedral, Mechelen also has many spacious mansions and residences. A good example is the Hof van Busleyden, a stately city palace that was built in the 16th century, in the heart of the city. This beautiful renaissance city palace takes you back in time to the days when such ‘Mechelen’ greats as Hieronymus van Busleyden, Erasmus, and Thomas More sojourned here.