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.

Walid El Handouz

Walid El Handouz

Kid Mayor of Mechelen 2018 (2007)

Can you describe what you do?

I live in Mechelen together with my parents and sister, near the Tervuursesteenweg which is situated south of the city centre. I go to school at GO Ter Berken in Hofstaden, close to where I live. Each Friday, I follow Aikido training (a Japanese self-defence sport). I’m also a member of the youth organisation Chiro in Hofstade. In 2016 I was elected kid major for the Child Council of Mechelen. I am their spokesperson from October 2017 until October 2018.

How do you perceive Mechelen? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

Mechelen is a child-friendly, beautiful and fun city.

What would you say is Mechelen’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

They care about and pay a lot of attention to kids. A lot of things in the city are created or adapted with kids in mind.

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

As a member of the child council in Mechelen, I learned a lot during the meetings and workshops that were organised for us. Kids truly have a voice in Mechelen.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

I would like to see some more colour in the city. The bright yellow ‘Opsinjoor’ statue at the Wollemarkt is a good example of that.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?

There are too many fun things to mention! I would start at the ‘Grote Markt’ and climb the St Rumbold’s Tower, where at the top you have a fantastic view over the city. Other places we would visit include Kruidtuin, Vrijbroekpark, Tivoli park, Planckendael, De Necker, Technopolis, and the Toy Museum. We would also attend one of the many festivities : the Ottertrotter world music festival, Maanrock in the city centre, Parkpop in the Kruidtuin, Speeldag for kids in the city centre, just to name a few.

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

I like the legend of the ‘Maneblussers’. The moon was shining behind the St. Rumbolds tower, and the town people thought it was on fire so they started to extinguish it. It’s a funny, silly story that shows we don’t take ourselves too seriously.