Mechelen actually has three town halls: the old Schepenhuis, the Huis De Beyaert and the present-day town hall. Behind the latter you also have the brand-new administrative centre called the 'Huis van de Mechelaar'.
But to return to the present-day town hall on the Grote Markt, it consists of two parts: the cloth hall with unfinished belfry and the Palace of the Great Council. Why wasn't the belfry ever finished? The cloth trade went into decline in the fourteenth century and there wasn't the money to complete the building. For two hundred years the belfry was no more than a shell, until it was eventually provided with a temporary roof in the sixteenth century. Temporary? That roof is still there.
The belfry is now a UNESCO world heritage site. On the right of the belfry you can see the oldest part of the town hall, the remains of the earlier cloth hall. On the left is the Palace of the Great Council. The Great Council? It never actually met here, because this wing was only completed in the twentieth century in accordance with the original sixteenth-century plans of the then leading architect Rombout Keldermans.
TIP! The interior of the Town Hall is well worth seeing. You can visit it in the company of a guide on the Historical City Walk.