This panorama was taking on the market square ("grote markt") in the historical center of Mechelen, Belgium. Though now in the shadow of Brussels, Mechelen is a historically important city in its own right. From 1506 to 1530 it was the capital of the Netherlands under Margaret of Austria. In 1559 it became an archbishopric, a sign of great importance. It was famous for its wood carvings, some of which can still be seen in the churches of the city, and for lace and tapestry manufacture.
Today it is a vibrant town, mixing trendy and traditional. Its carillon school is world-renowned, training students from all over the world in the art of playing carillons, sets of 24 or more bells hung in church towers. Shops downtown are often housed in buildings with the old-style Flemish architecture, but offer edgy fashions sure to appeal to the younger generation.
On one side of market square, you can catch a glimpse of the the St. Rumbold's Cathedral (in Dutch: Sint-Romboutskathedraal) above the buildings. On the opposite side of the square is the present-day Town Hall which has two parts: the cloth hall with unfinished belfry, now a UNESCO world heritage site, and the palace of the great council.
Around the square are many historical buildings from different times and in different styles including sixteenth-century renaissance and eighteenth-century roccocco. Many of these buildings now house restaurants.
Belgium is a country in northwest Europe. Founding member of the European Union, it covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres and has a population of about 10.7 million. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. Upon its independence, Belgium eagerly participated in the Industrial Revolution and, at the end of the nineteenth century, possessed several colonies in Africa. Today, Belgium's strongly globalized economy and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helps made it 2007 the world's 15th largest trading nation. Cultural life is nowadays concentrated within each language community and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced. Anyway, the region corresponding to today's Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture. Text extracted from wikipedia.