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  MECHELEN : Saint-Rumbold's Tower
 
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(Sint-Romboutstoren)
Scale model of the tower inside the Cathedral.From a far distance, one easily recognizes Mechelen by the truncated silhouette of its St.Rumbold's tower. This unfinished monument with its 97,28 m, dominates the whole area. The 514 steps leading to the upper gallery don't deter the thousands of visitors. The  go-slow, smooth, and gradual climb with pauses at each of the 6 floors, allows everybody to reach the top.

The original plans for the tower were made when Mechelen became a rich and powerful commercial and political center. How to show this better than by building a huge tower ? Indeed, the tower of the St. Rumbold's cathedral was to become the highest tower in the low countries. Completed, it should have reached the dizzying height of 160 m. Financial problems in the 16th century ensured that this plan was brought to a halt. The tower now reaches an altitude of 97,28 m. Inside the cathedral is a scale model of what the tower should have looked like if it had been completed. 

There is a first stop in the crane room, where one can admire the skill and inventiveness of our medieval crane constructors. About 80 steps higher on the next floor, which once was the smithy, your guide will explain the oldest way and basic principles of chiming and the evolution of carillon music. Far above your heads, you already see the huge bells of the old carillon. Salvator (8884 kg), Jehsus (dated from 1640) and the younger liberation bell (1947) are some of our famous bells you can admire from close-by. The carillon is praised and cherished by campanologists.

The next 3 floors bring you along the old clockwork among the 49 bells of the antique instrument, which, despite its age, still is in perfect working order. Amazed one discovers only 39 steps higher, a brand-new carillon, used during the summer months for the renowned summer-evening recitals (from June to  mid-September). Jo Haazen and other guest carillonneurs present you their repertoire every Monday evening from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. You are cordially invited to attend these recitals, free seats are available.

Jo Haazen.Our two impressive carillons those bronze mastodons with their enormous total weight of 80 tons and 98 bells, are not the only  attraction our tower has to offer, for after a last flight of steps, you at last reach the top platform and the outside top balcony  with a ravishing bird's eye view of the town. There is even a carillon school in Mechelen, housed in a beautiful building in Rococo-style. 

We only can affirm the words of Libert Vanderkerken where he wrote : "Filled with joy, you look around and greet the fields, the woods, the moon and stars. A grandiose sight unfolds and fills your eyes and heart with overwhelming joy, and in this mood you'll find that precious peace of mind."

It's true, the result makes that small physical effort worthwhile !
 


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