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A 167 m finished tower design engraved in 1649 by Wenceslaus Hollar, with the headline: TVRRIS ELEGANTISSIMÆ S. RVMOLDI MECHLINIÆ
Interior of the nave
Tomb of Cardinal de Granvelle
Construction of the church itself started shortly after 1200, and it was consecrated in 1312, when part had become usable. From 1324 onwards the flying buttresses and revised choir structure acquired characteristics that would distinguish Brabantine Gothic from French Gothic. After the city fire of 1342, the Master MasonJean d'Oisy managed repairs and continued this second phase, which by the time of his death in 1375 formed the prototype for that High Gothic style. His successors finished the vaults of the nave by 1437, and those of the choir by 1451.
During the final phase of 1452-1520, the tower was erected, financed by pilgrims and later by its proprietor, the City. Designed to reach 600 Mechlinian feet[Note 2] or about 167 metres, higher than any church tower would ever attain (Ulm Minster has measured 161 metres since the 19th century), the very heavy St. Rumbold's tower was built on what had once been wetlands, though with foundations only three metres deep its site appears to have been well-chosen. After a few years, in 1454, its chief architect Andries I Keldermans constructed the Saint Livinus' Monster Tower (or St.-Lievensmonstertoren as it is called in Dutch) in Zierikzee (in the present-day Netherlands), where leaning or sagging of the tower (now 62 metres but designed for ca. 130) could wreck the church. This concern led to fully separate edifices, a solution also applied in Mechelen. At both places, in the early 16th century the upper part of the tower was abandoned, not for technical but for financial reasons. St-Rumbold's should have been topped by a 77-metre spire but only seven metres of this were built, hence the unusual shape. A deliberately weak connection closed the gap between tower and church upon finishing the construction.
The church has functioned as a cathedral since 1559. In the 18th century, each capital's surrounding ornament of sculpted cabbage leaves, that had been an inspiration for numerous Brabantine Gothic churches, was replaced with a double ring of crops. In 2005, after engineers had figured out the support capacity of ground and tower, there was talk of completing the entire spire from the original drawings.
St. Rumbold's Tower
Unhindered view of the distant horizon (up to Antwerp and Brussels) is possible since 2009 from the Skywalk.
Of the original carillon's set of 49 bells, which are still in working order, each has its own name. Some of the most notable are Salvator, which weighs 8884 kg;[Note 3]Jehsus, which was built in 1460; and the Liberation, which was the newest addition in 1947. Thirty-nine steps above this instrument, there is a second complete carillon on which concerts are played during the summer months. The total weight of both these carillons is over 80 tonnes and there are 98 bells in all.
Many of the region's cities have a nickname for their populace. The Mechlinians are said to have had ancestors running up their great Tower and passing on buckets of water to extinguish a blazing fire behind the perpendicular windows, where it turned out to be mere moonlight through sprightly clouds, hence are called Maneblussers ('Moon Extinguishers').[Note 4]
^The abbey founded by St. Rumbold in the 6th, 7th or 8th century and a 9th century St. Rumbold's abbey church subordinate to the bishops of Liège are assumed to have been located in the Holm, higher grounds a little outside the later city walls of Mechelen. A 9th century St. Rumbold's Chapel in the city centre stood till 1580, was rebuilt in 1597 and demolished in 1798. After Prince-Bishop Notger's founding of the St. Rumbold's Chapter around 1000, an adjacent collegiate church was built and its parish title was handed to the chapter in 1134. Most likely on its spot, already from around the next turn of the century onwards the well known St. Rumbold's Church was built, consecrated in 1312, and promoted to cathedral in 1559. This edifice never belonged to the abbey.
^The original designer of St. Rumbold's tower may have been Jan II Keldermans, Andries I Keldermans, or Wouter Coolman. (Source retrieved 25 July 2011)Archived 18 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine. The now obsolete local foot came to 27.8 centimetres, roughly an inch shorter than the 30.48-cm long current British and American measure.
^The 15,000-pound (6,800 kg) Salvator bell cast by Peter van den Gheyn in 1638 cracked in 1696 and had to be remade.
^The full moon of 27 January 1687 caused all the stir about the presumed tower fire, reported as a 'happy-ending tragedy'. According to an 1808 sale's list Servais, Gaspar Joseph de (1808). "item 4242". Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de feu monsieur Gaspar-Joseph de Servais (in French). Retrieved 2011. 4242. Maan - suchtigen Brand - sticht of Mechelsche beroerte. Bly-eyndend Treur-spel op St.-Rombouts Tooren den 27 january 1687, in volle maen, in-8°. met platen. V. (in outdated Dutch)
^The small painted shields at St. Rumbold's should not be confused with the armour remnants in the Large Church of The Hague where (as in the Knights Hall there) the earliest Thirty Knights of the Golden Fleece had convened in 1456. (SourceArchived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 31 July 2011)
^The texts above and below the Madonna in the stained glass indicate portraying the Black Madonna painting in the cathedral; details of painting and its frame decoration however, are dissimilar.
^Mark van Strydonck, Anton Ervynck, Marit Vandenbruaene and Mathieu Boudin (2006). Relieken, echt of vals? (in Dutch). Davidsfonds, Leuven. ISBN978-90-5826-420-6.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^"De relieken van Sint-Rombout" (in Dutch). Torens aan de Dijle vzw (Cooperation between representatives of 8 historical churches at Mechelen, and the City). Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 2011.
^"Strategisch beleidsplan voor het toerisme in Lier"(PDF) (in Dutch). WES vzw. Study ordered by City of Lier. 2009. Archived from the original(PDF) on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2011. Sint-Romboutskathedraal in Mechelen, koorsluiting vanaf 1335, wellicht door Jean d'Oisy (ambulatory from 1335 onwards, probably by Jean d'Oisy)
^Smets, Jan. "Sint-Romboutskathedraal". Flickr.com. Retrieved 2011. deze plaat herinnert aan het bezoek van Paus Johannes Paulus II aan Mechelen, in 1985, nét op zijn 65ste verjaardag. Hij sprak toen de 'gevleugelde woorden' uit over de Grote Markt: '...Mechelaars, uw toren is niet af...'