Building work on the cathedral lasted three hundred years, from the 13th to the 16th century. Originally the tower had a much more modest and lower tower. In the 15th century however, the city decided to replace it by a proper belfry. The commission went to the Keldermans family of architects. The foundations of the tower, which was originally planned to be much higher than it is now, are only three meters deep, but as the ground here is very solid, that proved to be sufficient. The tower was never completed. But the lopped form of the tower, the hallmark of Mechelen, nevertheless reached a height of 97.28 meters.

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