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Ghent, Belgium

     The history of Ghent, Belgium began in 630 when St. Amandus chose the site to construct an Abby because it was located between two rivers, the Lys and the Sceidt.  Ghent is located in the Flemish region of Belgium and is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province.  Until the 13th century, Ghent was the biggest city in Europe after Paris; it was bigger than London, Cologne and Moscow.

     Picture yourself sitting at one of the many sidewalk cafes, enjoying a wonderful Belgium coffee and one of the most scrumptious pastries you have ever had and being surrounded by nearly 1400 years of history.   Much of the city’s medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkable well preserved and restored. The Cathedral, St. Bavo’s, combines three types of architectural styles.  It also houses the painting by Jan van Eyck, “The Mystic Lamb,” painted in 1432

     Nearby are the Gravensteen castle of the Counts, built in the 1100’s, the 16th century City Hall and the belfry.  Ghent has many beautiful churches to visit, among them Saint James, the Saint Nicolas church and the Saint Michael’s church. Just think, nowhere else can you be surrounded by so much history per square mile than in the heart of Ghent.

     One of the reasons the historical building are so well preserved is because the city center is a car-free area, so leave your car in the Park & Ride zones. As one of the largest cities in Belgium, Ghent has a highly developed transportation system.  The municipality of Ghent comprises five train stations, trams, trolleybuses and city buses. On weekends, night buses provide free transportation through the night.

     Because Ghent is free from traffic, it is a perfect place to stroll, taking in all the wonderful aromas from the restaurants, listening to the chatter that is going on around, looking in the many, very nice shops and enjoying the mind-boggling historical sites.  There are many pedestrian signposts, so you always know where you are and in which direction your next attraction is located.

     It is a good idea to stop by the Tourist Center first and pick up the free tourist map and meet some of the friendly residents of Ghent.

     You can also take a boat ride on one of the many canals that flow through the inner city and admire the historical buildings and beautiful homes that span centuries of architectural styles and the wealth of the old Ghent history.

     Like most Belgian cities, Ghent offers a rich variety of local and foreign cuisine.  The city center and quarter called “Patershol,” the largest open area in Belgium, has a huge concentration of restaurants, sidewalk cafes and shops. Dozens of sidewalk cafes are inviting places to stop and eat and sit among the medieval buildings as the people are rushing by you using their modern-day iPhones.

     An interesting fact about Ghent is that the city promotes a meat-free day on Thursday called Veggiedag.  Vegetarian food is promoted in public school and through the city.  This is linked to the recognition of the environmental effects of meat products. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization stated this represents nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

     The port of Ghent, in the north of the city, is the third largest port of Belgium.  The port area houses big companies like Sidmar, Volvo Cars, Volvo Trucks, Volvo Parts, Honda and Stora Enso.

     If you have extra time on your hands these next few months, you would find it very interesting and fascinating to research the history of Ghent, Belgium.  Find out why they are referred to as “stubborn” people and why they have three “beguinages” and what “beguinages” are...



Copyright © 2008-2015 DeeDee MacDonald

Reader Comments...
2010-01-02 21:28:22
"Great article - I would love to visit there! :)"
        - Ruth

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