Saint John's Church

Sint-Janskerk Mechelen (detail)

Sint-Janskerkhof 1, Mechelen

Mechelen is a town of the people that lets you stroll from the one historical church to the next. The city also has a rich history and boasts plenty of masterful artworks. This is definitely the case at the Sint-Janskerk. Not only can visitors admire Peter Paul Rubens’s Adoration of the Magi, its tower also hides some unique 14th-century murals.

De aanbidding der wijzen, Pieter Paul Rubens

Saint John's Church

The actual name of the Gothic white-sandstone Saint John's Church is the Church of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. It dates from the 15th century and with its 55.5m high spire, it was a point of orientation for travelling pilgrims. A past that lives on in its rich architecture and art collection. In 2008, the Flanders Heritage Agency discovered exceptionally well preserved 14th-century murals depicting Saint Christopher and Saint George behind the organ case on the first floor of the tower. Though this is only one example of the many other art treasures visitors can admire in the church.

The Adoration of the Magi - Peter Paul Rubens

For a long time, the parish of Saint John was the richest in Mechelen. So there are quite a few very special artworks to be found in its church. Peter Paul Rubens’s renowned baroque Triptych of the Three Wise Men adorns the altar, for example. It is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship showcasing his technical mastery. On the centre panel, depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the light of Jesus shines on the faces of His visitors. The panels on either side show us Saint John of Patmos, the martyrdom of John, the decapitation of Saint John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus. The back of the side panels has a nifty mechanism to turn the paintings so all the stories can be seen.


Saint Veronica - Gaspar de Crayer

Gaspar de Crayer was well known for his religious work, riding the tide of the flourishing Habsburgers after the Twelve Years Truce (1609-1627). At this time, the Habsburgers repaired and built copious numbers of churches, monasteries and abbeys, which presented De Crayer with a great opportunity to become one of the main painters of religious scenes in his time. Everything of course in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation - the Catholic answer to the Protestant Reformation: focused on the lives of the saints and scenes from the New Testament. Indeed, his fame and connections brought him ample commissions from the Southern Netherlands and even from abroad. The painting in Saint John's Church, which depicts Saint Veronica (abt. 1622) shows his mastery. In it, Veronica is holding a cloth and is trying to give it to a tired Jesus to wipe the sweat and blood off His face. He is looking at her askance and almost seems to collapse under His colossal cross. The tension of the scene is palpable.

De Heilige Veronica - Gaspar de Crayer

Practical information


Sint-Janskerkhof 1
2800 Mechelen
View directions

Opening times

  • From Tuesday to Sunday from 1 until 4 pm.

Disabled access

  • Partially accessible for the disabled.

Nice to know

  • Admission: free


Other sites nearby

Preekstoel van Pieter Valck (detail)
Fancy a bit of wood-carving magnificence? The wonderful pulpit by Pieter Valckx in the Sint-Katelijnekerk in Mechelen towers high above you.