The construction of St. Rombouts tower
St. Rombout’s Tower as we know it today is the second tower of that name on the same site. The first mentions are from 1217 to 1250 (approx.), then from 1250 to 1312, from 1351 to 1400 and from 1401 to 1500. The present one was created from 1452 to 1520. The foundation stone of the current tower was laid by Jan van Muysen, then the communemaster of the city of Mechelen. Construction was possible because in 1451 Mechelen was granted the right to grant indulgences to pilgrims. This right was renewed with regularity over the following years so that enough money came in to finance the construction of the tower.
97.27 meters high (167 meters planned)
The master builder of the cathedral is Jean de Oisy and no fewer than three descendants of the Keldermans family of master builders of the tower. The original plan envisioned a height of 167 meters but due to foundation weakness and probably lack of money, it was never realized. At 97 meters, work was halted in 1520. The ambition to build higher and more beautiful than Antwerp’s Onze -Lieve -Vrouwetoren had to be abandoned by the city. However, St. Rombout’s Tower was given the function of Church Belfry because the planned belfry at the city hall was not realized.
The six swinging bells
The six swinging bells of St. Rombout’s Tower are a story in themselves. The first two were assigned to the tower as early as 1492. They hung there for only a few years when in 1499 the tower caught fire. The two bells melted and were re-cast after the fire, retaining their names: the “Libertus” and the “Magdalena. The other two: the “Salvator” and the “Rumoldus” were still outside the tower and escaped. Later, the ‘Charles’ – first cast in 1524 – and the ‘St. John-Berchmans – cast in 1947- were added. With use, it is common for clocks to crack over time. So was the one in St. Rombout Tower, and five of the six bells were recast several times.
The two carillons
In 1527 the first prelude of four bells was expanded to eight bells, and in 1556 a more elaborate chime and keyboard were added. After more additions, the old carillon had a total of 49 bells when it was replaced with a completely new carillon in 1981. At 40 tons, this new city carillon is the heaviest in Belgium and the fourth heaviest in Europe. Only those of Berlin (48 tons) and the two carillons of Mafra in Portugal (44 tons each) are heavier.
The tower from bottom to top
Those who want to go to the viewing platform at the top of the tower will have to climb all 538 steps up the stairs because there is no elevator. From bottom to top you pass the “Crane Room,” the “Blacksmith Shop,” the “Old Carillon Room,” the “New Carillon Room,” the “Bell Room,” the “Clock Room,” the “Clockwork Room,” the “Axis Cellar” and last but not least the modern “Skywalk” with a great view.
Wikipedia, , accessed December 12, 2022. | Website be, accessed December 12, 2022. | Blog: Les Beffrois, Les Perrons & Les Rolands, , accessed December 12, 2022. | Heirman, M. (2003) Along Flemish belfries and town halls. Leuven: Publisher Davidsfonds NV. | Visit Mechelen (2022) Visitor’s Guide St. Rombouts Tower. Mechelen: VisitMechelen. | Website Our Tower, accessed December 12, 2022
May 22, 1452
1452 – 1520
see opening hours below
Opening hours St. Rombouts tower
Sunday through Friday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Last ascent 5 p.m.
Accommodation options in Mechelen
Part of our pre-fun consists of booking accommodation. For us, combining a visit to a belfry with an overnight stay near it completes the experience and gives us more time to gather information.
Stay overnight at Belgium’s first brewery hotel. From its unique location in the heart of the Great Beguinage, you can explore the city of Mechelen in all its facets while walking…
The Pious Fox is a place where you can escape from the world for a while. Surrounded by the Beguinage Church and other historical gems, you quickly imagine yourself in another time….
Food and drink
During our visit to Mechelen, we will visit several locales to have something to eat, drink and most importantly, taste the atmosphere. After all, not only information hunger needs to be satisfied. Do you have an absolute tip where a visit to Mechelen should be culinary or can you tip the ultimate pub? Then send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Brasserie De Witten Vos
De Witten Vos is a modern brasserie with a menu for every taste. From Belgian fare like pork cheeks with Golden Carolus beer to an exotic wok and catered seasonal suggestions. We had a delicious lunch there on the terrace at the Grand Place. Highly recommended!
The three most recent posts
On this page we have collected all the relevant information for visiting this belfry. To keep this up to date, we are constantly on our way to one of the 56 belfries on the Unesco World Heritage List. Below are the latest additions.
Notice of an unexpected visit to theater Kalleke Step in Grembergen during a planned visit to Dendermonde.
Report on the visit to Dendermonde City Hall and the Hollandse Kazerne with the common thread: Ros Carillon
Visit Belfry of Dendermonde 2023 Rein had managed to get in touch with Patrick Segers, the head of the Tourism Department in Dendermonde, and make an appointment to tour the Belfry. Not only was Patrick waiting for us in front of the Belfry and City Hall but he turned...