The Flemish city of Gent (Ghent) is well worth visiting if you are exploring Belgium’s cities
. Ghent is bigger than
but is not as picturesque. Gent (Ghent) was founded in the 9th century and prospered in the cloth trade during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The city has some excellent museums
and medieval buildings. The centre is dominated by the Gravensteen; Gent (Ghent was the seat of the Counts of Flanders who built this forbidding castle).
The 12th century Gravensteen Castle was built to protect and threaten the townsfolk, decades later it was turned into a dungeon and the courtyard was used as a place of execution, the crypt as a torture chamber. The museum, housed in the counts former quarters exhibits a disturbing assortment of tools of torture. (It is a popular tourist attraction nonetheless). It is open daily to the public throughout the year.
Many of Ghent’s main sights are within walking distance, trams travel regularly to the city centre from the main rail and bus stations. Gent (Ghent) has an excellent bus and tram system.
The main train station St. Pietersstation is approximately 2km from the city centre. There are trains every 20 minutes to Bruges and every half hour or so to Antwerp. If you are using Bruges as your base for touring you can easily visit Ghent for the day.
Gent (Ghent) is a university city and has a lively nightlife with many pubs, bars/cafes. As you explore the city down the cobbled lanes you will come across some excellent restaurants. Near the Gravensteen lies the Patershol, among these medieval streets are some trendy restaurants and as you explore the winding side streets you will find sweet shops, bakeries and numerous bars. One of Ghent’s most picturesque streets the Graslei is lined with well preserved buildings some dating from the 12th century.
The St. Baafskathedraal built 1274-1569 may be of interest, it houses one of the most important Flemish paintings by Jan Van Eyck, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. It was painted as an altar piece in 1432 and has 20 panels. The church has many other paintings also on display. The cathedral is not particularly striking from the outside but is very impressive on the inside.
You will notice the difference between the old Flemish quarters and the French district of the city, the dividing line been the three church towers, Flemish Ghent has old brick houses and cobbled lanes, French Ghent is where you will find shopping arcades and chic boutiques especially in Veldstraat and Brabantdam streets.
If you have plenty of energy you should consider climbing the 90mtr high Belfort (bell tower) the tower was a symbol of the power of the city guilds. The gilded dragon on top of the spire dates from1377. There is a lift for those who cannot manage the climb. Adjacent to the Belfort is the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) which was built between the years 1425 and 1445.
For the most beautiful views across the city head for St. Michael’s Bridge and take some time to admire the views and some of the most beautiful medieval guildhalls and warehouses. Along the river banks are some of the most delightful buildings in Flanders.
There are several museums you may want to visit while visiting Ghent. The Museum of Folklore will give you an insight of life in Ghent, housed in a number of small Flemish houses and contains re-constructed workshops and period rooms.
The Museum of Decorative Arts
has furnishings from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The Museum of Fine Arts is well worth visiting with works by Delvaux, Van Dyck, Rubens and Jordaens.
You can explore the city yourselves or opt for a walking tour, you can take the opportunity see some of the sights of Ghent by boat, and various boat trips are available and depart from a number of locations. Horse-drawn carriage rides are another option you may consider.
During the summer months many of the city’s buildings are floodlit and you can enjoy an evening stroll some refreshment at one of the café/bars or terraces and enjoy the atmosphere.
Gent (Ghent) has a choice of accommodation from a hostel, guesthouses and hotels. If you would like more detailed information contact the Tourist Office, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ you will find plenty of enjoyable and interesting attractions in and around the Flemish City of Ghent to enable you to have a lovely city break.