Ghent, just like Brugge, is located in the flemish region of Belgium so their language and culture are closer to the Netherlands’. The city was founded at the confluence of the two rivers Leie and Schledt and started as a small settlement, then, becoming one of the wealthiest and biggest cities in North Europe in 1300, thanks to its economical exchanges with other countries. It was, for example, bigger than Cologne and Moscow and just a bit smaller than Paris. Despite the fact it is located far away from the coast, it has a port, which is connected to the sea through a canal. Ghent has myriad of middle-age buildings that could survive throughout the time and are all very well-preserved.
How to Reach:
As usually, we departed from Bruxelles, buying our tickets at the central station. It is not hard at all, just look at the screens and try to spot the train that goes to Ghent or Gand in French. When you arrive, do not worry, there are buses that can transport you to the city centre but I advice you to have a nice stroll along the river from the railway station to Ghent.
What to absolutely visit in Gand:
I decided to write about the main landmarks of this enchanting flemish city but to really discover the small treasures of Ghent, what you just need to do, is wander around aimlessly as the whole historical centre is an art masterpiece: the canals entangled with the marvellous medieval buildings that create a painting-like city.
- Saint Bavo Cathedral – Sint Baafskathedral
The city can be already easily spotted from the bridge, it stands out above all the other buildings in the city. At that time, the cathedral was under renovation works so I could not enjoy the beauty of the front facade but I could visit the inside the same. It is one of the churches I was struck by the most thanks to its elaborated architecture and glass windows, which I personally love ? The church is named after Saint Bavo, the patron Saint of Ghent and Harlem, a small city in the Netherlands. The cathedral was built on a former chapel and it was expanded in romanesque style and later, between 14th and 16th centuries, it was enlarged following the principles of gothic style. The church contains one of the greatest art masterpiece of Belgium: the adoration of mystic lamb by Van Eyck.
Belfry is like the town hall tower that we had already found in Bruges, that one we even climbed up and almost died in reaching the top…for this sole reason, this time, we decided not to climb up but just admire it from the outside as we already spotted the ferris wheel, that would have brought us up some time later, without any effort. The belfry was built in the 1300 in gothic style and later expanded after adding the Dragon of Gand on the top. The tower symbolised the independence of the city of Ghent in the middle age and is part of the Belgium and France’s list of clock tower of the unesco world heritage.
3. Saint-Nicholas Church – Sint-Niklaaskerk
The church is located on Korenmarkt and is named after Saint Nicholas from Bari because he is the protector of sailors and merchants. The actual church was built in the 13th century in gothic style with a tower that had the function of Belfry but the complex was heavily modified throughout the time because of the lack of money in city’s finances, every time there were economic problems. A special feature of the church is the tower-lantern.
4. Graslei and Korenlei
Graslei and Korenlei are the two quays, which rise up on the Leie’s banks, connected to each other by two bridges: Grasbrug and Sint Michielsbrug. Along the quays, you can find many ancient buildings that were built by local corporations as the economic boom occurred just in this part of the city. For example, the Spijker and Tweede Korenmetershuis, were the first and second headquarters of corn corporations during the middle-age.
5. Korenmarkt with Christmas market
Korenmarkt is the main square of Ghent, where everyone gathers for a cup of coffee or just to have a stroll around, and was the core of the city during the middle-age, where all the economical exchanges were performed; not by chance, the name means Corn Market. On the Korenmarkt, the main Ghent’s landmarks, can be found such as the Saint Bavo Cathedral or just a few steps away, you can reach the picturesque quays of Korenlei and Graslei. At the time I came here, the Christmas market took place and conquered the whole square with many stands selling, not only Christmas ornaments, but also food. We tasted a lot of different kinds of food including Belgian fast food and the Spanish Paella ? To put an end to this fun day, we decided to ride the ferris wheel that was on the Korenmarkt and we could grasp a beautiful sight of the city without struggling much to reach the top of the Belfry ahah the ferris wheel did all the dirty job