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Destinations » Belgium » Ghent Travel Guide
In a unique way, the beautiful Ghent has managed to preserve its medieval power while keeping up with the times. Ghent was one of the biggest cities in Western Europe at the end of the Middle Ages, renowned for its textile industry. Today it is the third biggest city of Belgium and one of the most beautiful ones.
Modern Ghent certainly cannot be overlooked either. The city has an important port, thanks to the canal Ghent-Terneuzen which allows sea-going vessels to bring their products to the city and its industrial hinterland. The tourist will not have eyes enough to admire the awesome architectural wealth, which offers a splendid combination of impressiveness and idyllic charm of the proud and (in former times) often rebellious city of Ghent. The major attractions are the Counts' Castle, the Belfry and Saint Bavon's Cathedral, not to forget the splendid Graslei.
Also renowned are the Ghent Festivities, the biggest street theater festival in Europe. Each year around the end of July, street artists from all over the world come to Ghent giving street performance at every possible hour at the festival, lasting 10 days. At the same time, other festivals take place like the technofestival 10 days off, the jazzfestival Bluenote and the Latino Music Festival Pole Pole with a huge stage over the main river in Ghent. Apart from this, many rock bands perform and many side activities are organized.
All Images © Joost Joossen
The main shopping street in Ghent is the extremely central and busy Veldstraat, which is lined with shops on both sides. Whilst the Veldstraat is completely pedestrianised, when shopping in this part of Ghent, do bear in mind that trams still run along this stretch all through the day.
Shopping in Ghent and throughout Belgium is not always as expensive as it first seems, since many tourists will be able to claim some or all of the tax back when they fly out of the country. Do check this first with the shopkeeper before you spend your money.
A Greek restaurant with big food for little money. Simple, quick and tasty, all you need if you aren't looking for a romantic dinner. Recommended: the Retsina menu, a Greek "sampler" with a drink included.
Located somewhat outside downtown, in vicinity to the railway station, De Rotonde offers a variety of dinners for good prices.
The town hall is situated on the site where until 1482 the town representatives and guild's men met in separate houses. Because these houses were judged too small and too unrepresentative for such important people, it was decided that a new and bigger town hall had to be built. The first stone of this new hall was laid in 1482. The building was finished in 1484. Very soon, however, also this new hall was considered too small and from 1518 until 1535 a new and much bigger town hall was constructed in late-gothic style.
Cloth was what made Ghent rich. Against the belfry stands the cloth hall of Ghent,built between 1425 and 1445. Everything in relation to the cloth trade, the main industry of Ghent, happened here. Sales contracts were signed here, the products were weighed here, etc.
Graslei and Korenlei
The numerous waterways passing through the city centre all flow
towards the former port at the Graslei.
The elegant façades of the buildings on the Graslei and the Korenlei represent different architectural styles. However, together they make up a unique view Ghent can truly be proud of. Each façade reflects a period in history reminding the visitor of the spirit of enterprise and the busy commercial activities of the old guilds.