Saturday, June 23, 2007

(B) Mechelen, Predikheren/Dominican monastery

The Dominican Order, or Predikheren is a Catholic religious order, created by Saint Dominic in the early 13th century in France.
In 1736 the Dominicans monastery was built in Mechelen. The west wing, the church of the monastery, was never completed.

In 1796 the French occupiers took the buildings and closed the monastery. The buildings later were sold to a religious group that used the monastery as a home for elderly men.

In 1809 the buildings were used as a military hospital and the church in 1814 as a military arsenal. That's why it's also called the General Delobbe-baracks.

The monastery has kept its military use until 1977. The last 30 years the buildings haven't been used, only some theatre projects were held in the church.


In May 2001 the buildings were sold to a property developer who would build an office complex, but that never happened.
In July 2005 the city of Mechelen bought it back, in order to find a solution to guard the buildings from further decay.

Up till now nothing has happened to the buildings, except for natural decay. Local youth seems to use it as a shelter, too.


It was fairly easy to enter. On the internet I always read that people find an entrance though a cellar window, but we just had to climb upon a bike that was left against a wall, and jump through an open window.
We first entered the church of which the windows were masked with plates, so it was pretty dark in there. Just as we had seen on photos on the internet, we lit small candles at the pillars to have more light and to create some kind of 'special effect'.
But with a cam with a maxium shutter time of 15 seconds, trouble focusing and generating lots of noise in dark areas, I wasn't able to get a good shot... gotta go back when I have a new camera ;-)

Then we wandered through the rest of the building, most lovely was the green hall as you can see in the photo above. Most rooms and halls were dark (all windows are masked), it was a strange experience, thinking of all things that had been going on here in former times.

Finally we entered the huge attic, completely made out of wood and with 'no smoking' texts.
At this point we heard lots of noises downstairs, as if some vandals were busy, eh, vandalising. Quite scary if you ask me, but we went on photographing.

Back downstairs we saw that local youth had been there, eating and drinking and making some mess, but nothing really vandalised. There was still one of them talking into his cellphone, but he and we acted as if it was the most normal thing being there - and in fact, why not.


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