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When the city acquired the staple for salt in 1301, the historic quay on the Grootbrug or Large Bridge was renamed the 'Zoutwerf' or Salt Wharf. You will immediately notice the two authentic façades of 'De Waag' and 'De Steur'. It is not hard to picture the boats being unloaded here and the cargoes brought in. De Steur served as a warehouse, while the goods were weighed in De Waag ('Weighhouse').

Another striking building is the former guildhall of the fishmongers, 'In den Grooten Zalm' – In the Large Salmon. You'll see the name of the building in relief above the door. A banderol bearing the words 'In den Grooten Zalm' is wound round the gilded salmon. The sumptuous Renaissance façade gives some indication of the wealth of this guild. Other guilds were still building in Gothic style and in wood.

The 'Innehuysken' to the right of 'De Waag' is where the 'innegeld' – 'monies received' – was paid, an early form of taxation. The building was destroyed by fire in the seventeenth century, but the fishmongers pulled together, rebuilt it and renamed it 'De Kleine Zalm', 'The Small Salmon'.

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Zoutwerf Mechelen

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