The Mechelen Hundred

Portraits of a city's people, today

Nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen has often been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. Yet teaming up with the City of Mechelen, our line-up of 100 of the city’s most prominent people, places and projects proves the extent of its potential. From artists and creatives to critical thinkers and fighters, these are the powerhouses driving Mechelen forward one step at a time.

Rozeke Raymaekers

Rozeke Raymaekers

Owner of Cafe 'de Tilt' (1938)

Can you describe what you do?

I have been running my cafe ‘den Tilt’ for almost forty years now. I came to Mechelen from Limburg after my marriage came to an end, and for a couple of years, I worked as a janitor. But then I saw this place was for rent, and I already had experience running a pub in my hometown, so I decided to give it a try. Since then, I haven’t taken any vacation, I’ve never closed this place, not even for one day!

In your view, what kind of city is Mechelen?

To be honest, I couldn’t really tell you: I never leave my cafe! Every day, I am working here, and the regulars who come in for a drink have become like family. I think I would get lost in the streets of Mechelen, even after living here for so long. On Wednesdays, I go to a local supermarket for groceries, and that’s about it. I once took a bus into the city, but I had trouble getting home. Ever since then, I’ve decided not to bother anymore.

How do you perceive the people of Mechelen?

They won’t like it when I say this, but I think people from Limburg are quite a bit more relaxed and more friendly than the local people from Mechelen.

How has Mechelen contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

My cafe and its customers have become my life. A couple of years ago, my husband died, but not for a second have I ever thought about closing this place. I have become a household name here, the city’s football club KV Mechelen as well as the local cycling club WTC Den Tilt have made this their clubhouse. I intend to die behind the counter! Of course, I also plan to celebrate my 100th birthday first.

If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what/where would it be?

I haven’t even been up the St. Rumbold’s tower myself, so I’m the least qualified person to make those kind of recommendations, I’m afraid.

Can you talk to us about a local legend, a neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

Of course I have heard lots of stories from my customers over the years, but there’s one golden rule for every pub owner: whatever you hear at the bar, stays at the bar!