Ghent is the hidden gem in Belgium’s crown with a population of 250,000. This city was once a hidden secret but now blooms as a fashionable destination. It is a vibrant city with over 300 restaurants and numerous magical places. It is able to preserve both its non-ending treasures and unmatchable night life. Ghent’s Centre showcases medieval Flemish wealth and business success. Ghent’s glory days were the 14th & 15th Centuries, when the buoyant cloth trade made this city the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages”. Architectural delights such as Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque Churches are likely to stun you by their beauty. Ghent’s great network of canals and endless streets, the highlights of this region, is worth exploring. A large area of the city is pedestrianised, which makes it easier to view by walking or riding. It’s wonderful to watch Monuments of Ghent at night when they are illuminated.
When to Go– The summer in Belgium is similar to that of United Kingdom. The summer’s average temperature is 16 degrees but winters are mostly unexpected. The weather in Ghent is certainly very unpredictable throughout the year; you never know when the sun will shine and when it rains so one must pack his bags for all seasons. In winter days are short but in summer it is not unusual to enjoy the sunset at 9 or 10 pm. The city is less crowded in late autumn to early spring but is at its prettiest in the summer when more things place outdoors and the best way of passing time is to sit in a cafe terraces to soak up the atmosphere. Another best time to visit Ghent will be 9 – 20 October, feast your eyes on the Flanders International Film Festival which is held between 9 – 20 Oct.
Exploring Ghent– Ghent is one of the cities in the world, which has co-existed side by side a wide selection of old and new buildings, monuments and sights. Great photo opportunities and fantastic scenes of history are available due to narrow alleys between medieval buildings. Beautiful architectures dominate the city. Atmospheric and beautifully illuminated at night the monuments are great work of art and reflect the architecture of class.
What should be your First Stop– To get a perfect feel of this beautiful place make your first stop at the Six-Story Belfort (Belfry), a UNESCO world Heritage Site, which was built between 1313 and 1380, or, follow the winding lanes past 900-plus listed buildings, than take a water boat ride past the canal side gabled ware houses and along the two rivers which meet here – the Rivers Lys and Scheldt.
Places to Visit– Ghent is a city well pleased with itself, past and present and well worth your time to visit. “Three towers of Ghent” and the Crusaders “Castle of the Counts” dominates the skyline a weekly market still takes place there in the old Market Square. With many sights in the City Centre it is very easy to find your way around foot, apart from this there is extremely excellent public transport system, which will take you to the sights further afield. But here is a list and small descriptions of the places which should be on one’s “Not to Miss at All” list.
Graslei – One of the most picturesque streets which overlooks the River Leie on the site of the City. Lined with the perfectly built guildhouses, including the Toll House at No 11 is the smallest in the City.
Castle of the Counts– Stone Walled and imposed, Castle of Counts is the overlooking of the City Centre. Some parts of the Castle are dating back the 11th Century; it was the City’s main military stronghold until 14th Century.
St.Bavo’s Cathedral– Ghent’s most important sight, started off as a simple parish church in 942, and gradually grew over the years until it reached its present magnificent state. During the Ghent Festival only it is possible to climb 82m bell tower to enjoy the views of the City.
Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuele Kunst (SMAK)– Formerly a casino, this museum houses works of the finest modern artists, including Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon.