Ghent: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: March 11, 2023

In Flanders, the Leie and the Scheldt merge in the city centre of Ghent, forming several arms that once formed a river port that received and distributed the goods carried by the waterways. This commercial hub was the source of the city’s fortune, which financed large and prestigious buildings and the many residences of its wealthy merchants.

01. Castle of the Counts of Flanders

By establishing this fortress in Ghent, the Counts of Flanders made it one of the main cities in their territory. The defences were rebuilt in the 12th century based on the works seen during the Crusade. Renovations at the end of the 19th century rectified the damage caused by the time when a prison and then a factory occupied the site.

02. Graslei

The Grass Quay was once an important part of the river port in the heart of the commercial city. The houses rising from the quay form a homogeneous whole, albeit from different periods. Their refinement reflects the wealth derived from trade over a long period. It is a beautiful backdrop for the city, especially at the end of the day.

03. Korenlei

The Corn Quay is located opposite the Graslei. Its broad embankment nowadays facilitates the city’s tourist activities, with restaurant terraces and landings for the classic canal cruise. Its carefully restored facades, although more recent in appearance, also present a harmonious urban ensemble that takes us back centuries.

04. Meat Market

The old Meat Market has a long stone façade overlooking the river Leie, preceded by a narrow quay. As early as the 13th century, there was a wooden market hall in the heart of the neighbourhood, which consisted of speciality markets and warehouses that have now disappeared. Meat was sold here until the end of the 19th century, now the market hall serves local gastronomy to visitors.

05. St. Bavo’s Cathedral

An early church was rebuilt and extended in the 13th century to become the city’s cathedral. The interior has several works of art in a rather austere gothic architecture. It was recently discovered that some of the walls were used as an ossuary after the surrounding cemetery gave way to urban development.

06. St. Nicholas Church

The high tower at the crossing of the transept served for a time as a belfry before the construction of the nearby civil monument. The cathedral is also located nearby, which gives the city centre this accumulation of ancient buildings, another sign of wealth. The church is fragile and has undergone numerous consolidation works to preserve its integrity.

07. Belfry

It embodies the pride of a prosperous city asserting its political autonomy since the 14th century. The spire reaches 95 metres, surmounted by the dragon symbolising Ghent, it was the city’s watchtower, mainly to detect nascent fires. A large clock and a carillon set the rhythm of local life. It is one of the 56 belfries in the region that have been designated by UNESCO.

08. Stadshal

This recent construction, completed in 2012, has inevitably caused controversy in an immediate environment dominated by centuries-old monuments. The concept refers to Ghent’s commercial vocation and its many markets. From a practical point of view, it provides a roof for various public outdoor activities.

09. Castle of Gerard the Devil

The defensive structure dates back to the 13th century, when it was the residence of Robert of Ghent, nicknamed the Devil. The castle became a municipal building and was used for a number of purposes, including a seminary, an orphanage, an asylum and even a fire station. Now owned by the State, its beautiful gothic architecture can be visited in a series of large vaulted rooms.

10. Saint Elisabeth Beguinage

The beguinages in the Flemish cities are a real attraction for visitors. Whether it is the village atmosphere within the city or the unity of style of the cottages, the quiet alleys are a pleasant place to wander. In Ghent, even though the surrounding wall has disappeared, there is an intimate atmosphere, as if away from the city centre and the busy canals.

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  1. Just spent a half day there a few years back – – drove across from Bruges. It definitely deserved more of our time. Hopefully get back some day and actually stay overnight….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a beautiful city. The architecture and water blend together perfectly. The modern deviations in old cities always come as a shock, but I bet nobody ignores the City Hall. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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