Knowing the beautiful Flemish city of Ghent
After visiting the city of Bruges we took the train again to Ghent (Gent). If Bruges was amazing, Ghent was not going to be any less, offering us cultural richness and historical buildings. Despite being a small city, there are a lot of things to see and do including an active night live with a lot of live concerts. Also, it´s a port city with access to the sea, making Ghent an important city in terms of the economy.
When we left the station, the first thing that we saw was a big terrace and a warehouse for keeping bicycles of the citizens and the travelers. Without seeing it yourself it is impossible to imagine all the bicycles that there are there. We had to ask people if it is true that people lose their bicycles there and in effect, a lot of people don´t remember where they left their bike.
We started to see the city and unlike Bruges, the station and the city center are not close. To solve this problem we used one of the attractions of Ghent, the trams. From the Station of SintPeeters you will be able to take the line 1 or 4 which will bring you to the center. It is not worth the time it takes to walk to the center because it is almost thirty minutes away and there are a few things to see (we know because we tried it on the return trip).
We had only a little time to visit Ghent and we could not enter the gorgeous buildings of the city, and we had to be content with ust the outsides. We started in the Bell Tower (Belfort) where the famous bell Roland with a golden dragon is located. From the top you will get the best views of the city. Close by you can find the Cathedral of Saint Bavon, in a mix of styles that contain the history and architectonical richness of the city. On the historic side, this is the place where Carlos I was baptized and on the artistic side you will see famous works of art by Rubens or the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”of Van Eyck.
Our route was characteristic for the number of churches that could easily compete with the important European cathedrals. Among them you will find the Church of Santiago, the Church of Saint Nicholas (destroyed during the French Revolution where it was converted into a stable) or the Church of Saint Miguel. Saint Nicholas Church is located in the center of Korenmarkt, one the most important plazas and where the Wheat Market was, later converted in the Post Office; but nowadays it is a shopping center.
Another plaza that we liked a lot was the Plaza of the Friday Market (VrijdagMarkt), close to Santiago’s Church. It was one the liveliest plazas during the Middle Ages and in the center there is a statute of Jacob van Atrevelde, a local hero in the Hundred Years War. Nearby, we visited the old Medieval Neighborhood of Parteshol, one of the most coveted, actually, and where you will find numerous coffee shops and bars, despite it being a residential neighborhood.
Walking a little bit we arrived to one of the most spectacular buildings of the city where the Condes of Flandes lived (Gravensteen). This castle is in perfect condition and inside you will be able to visit the torture rooms with the tools they used. Also there is a medieval moat around the castle because it was an important place to guard.
Something important in Ghent apart from being gorgeous, but also because it is functional is the canal. Graslei is one the big attraction of the city. Amongst numerous terraces, it provides a nice environment and amazing views that will allow your imagination to run wild due to the medieval details that are still present. Some houses have the entry only through the canal, so people had boats in order to get the city. It really got our attention.
It was a shame that we could not see Ghent at a more relaxed pace because without any doubt it is a city that you could visit for several days. If you have the opportunity to travel to Bruges and Ghent on different days, do it. If not, you might have the feeling of needing more time. In our case it was not possible and at least we took from there a beautiful memory of Ghent. To end our visit we entered a little pub and talked with the waiters who invited us to some local beers.