GHENT

Belgium

Ghent is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and after Antwerp the largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.

Info Ghent

introduction

Ghent is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and after Antwerp the largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.

The municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the surrounding towns of Afsnee, Desteldonk, Drongen, Gentbrugge, Ledeberg, Mariakerke, Mendonk, Oostakker, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Sint-Kruis-Winkel, Wondelgem and Zwijnaarde. With 240,191 inhabitants in the beginning of 2009, Ghent is Belgium's second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,205 km2 (465 sq mi) and has a total population of 594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most populous in Belgium.The current mayor of Ghent,Daniël Termont, leads a coalition of the Socialistische Partij Anders,Groen and Open VLD.

The ten-day-long "Ghent Festival" (Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held every year and attended by about 1-1.5 million visitors.

info
POPULATION : 257,029
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE :• Time zone CET (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
LANGUAGE :  Dutch (official) , French (official), German (official)
RELIGION :
AREA : 156.18 km2 (60.30 sq mi)
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES : 51°3′N 3°44′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.1% 
 Female: 50.9%
ETHNIC :
AREA CODE : 09
POSTAL CODE : 9000–9052
DIALING CODE : +32 9
WEBSITE :  www.gent.be

Tourism

Ghent (Dutch: Gent, French: Gand) is a city in East Flanders in Belgium. Ghent is a city with a population of a quarter of a million, with rich history. At the same time, Ghent has a relatively high share of young people, and a student population of 50,000.

During the Middle Ages, Ghent was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. It was once considered the second largest city north of the alps, after Paris. The impact of this rich past can be clearly seen when viewing the imposing architecture of churches and the houses of rich traders. The whole of the city center is restored in this fashion, and still breathes the atmosphere of a thriving late-medieval city state. As the city council made the center free of cars, it is now a very welcoming and open area, which does not fail to impress even the people who live there.

Unlike Leuven, another university town in Flanders, youth is not the only category of people living there. There is an interesting mixture of foreigners who came to live there, or artists, among the native people of Ghent. This mixture makes the people more tolerant and open-minded. This atmosphere seeps into every aspect of city life than the smaller provincial cities or the bigger city of Antwerp.


Architecture

Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Interesting highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent established a nice blend between comfort of living and history – it is not a city-museum. The city of Ghent also houses three béguinages and numerous churches including the Saint-Jacob's church, the Saint-Nicolas' church and the Saint Michael's church.

In the 19th century Ghent's most famous architect, Louis Roelandt, built the university hall Aula, the opera house and the main courthouse. Highlights of modern architecture are the university buildings (the Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde. There are also a few theatres from diverse periods.

The beguinages, as well as the belfry and adjacent cloth hall, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999.

The Zebrastraat, a social experiment in which an entirely renovated site unites living, economy and culture, can also be found in Ghent.


Museums

Important museums in Ghent are the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts), with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and many Flemish masters; the SMAK or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (City Museum for Contemporary Art), with works of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol; and the Design Museum Gent with masterpieces of Victor Horta and Le Corbusier. The Huis van Alijn (House of the Alijn family) was originally a beguinage and is now a museum for folk art where theatre and puppet shows for children are presented. The Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel or MIAT displays the industrial strength of Ghent with recreations of workshops and stores from the 1800s and original spinning and weaving machines that remain from the time when the building was a weaving mill. The Ghent City Museum (Stadsmuseum, abbreviated STAM), is committed to recording and explaining the city's past and its inhabitants, and to preserving the present for future generations.


Restaurants and culinary traditions

In Ghent and other regions of East-Flanders, bakeries sell a donut-shaped bun called a "mastel" (plural "mastellen"), which is basically a bagel. "Mastellen" are also called "Saint Hubert bread", because on the Saint's feast day, which is 3 November, the bakers bring their batches to the early Mass to be blessed. Traditionally, it was thought that blessed mastellen immunized against rabies.

Other local delicacies are the praline chocolates from local producers such as Leonidas, the cuberdons or 'neuzekes' ('noses'), cone-shaped purple jelly-filled candies, 'babeluten' ('babblers'), hard butterscotch-like candy, and of course, on the more fiery side, the famous 'Tierenteyn', a hot but refined mustard that has some affinity to French 'Dijon' mustard.

Stoverij is a classic Flemish meat stew, preferably made with a generous addition of brown 'Trappist' (strong abbey beer) and served with French fries. 'Waterzooi' is a local stew originally made from freshwater fish caught in the rivers and creeks of Ghent, but nowadays often made with chicken instead of fish. It is usually served nouvelle-cuisine-style, and will be supplemented by a large pot on the side.

The city promotes a meat-free day on Thursdays called Donderdag Veggiedag  with vegetarian food being promoted in public canteens for civil servants and elected councillors, in all city funded schools, and promotion of vegetarian eating options in town (through the distribution of "veggie street maps"). This campaign is linked to the recognition of the detrimental environmental effects of meat production, which the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has established to represent nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ghent has the world's largest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita.


Festivities

The city is host to some big cultural events such as the Gentse Feesten, I Love Techno in Flanders Expo, "10 Days Off" musical festival, the International Film Festival of Ghent (with the World Soundtrack Awards) and the Gent Festival van Vlaanderen (nl). Also, every five years, a huge botanical exhibition (Gentse Floraliën) takes place in Flanders Expo in Ghent, attracting numerous visitors to the city.

The Festival of Flanders had its 50th celebration in 2008. In Ghent it opens with the OdeGand City festivities that takes place on the second Saturday of September. Some 50 concerts take place in diverse locations throughout the medieval inner city and some 250 international artists perform. Other major Flemish cities hold similar events, all of which form part of the Festival of Flanders (Antwerp with Laus Polyphoniae; Bruges with MAfestival; Brussels withKlaraFestival; Limburg with Basilica, Mechelen and Brabant withNovecento and Transit).


Nature

The numerous parks in the city can also be considered to be tourist attractions. Most notably, Ghent boasts a nature reserve (Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, 230 hectare ) and a recreation park (Blaarmeersen, 87 hectares).

History

Archaeological evidence shows human presence in the region of the confluence of Scheldt and Leie going back as far as the Stone Age and the Iron Age.

Most historians believe that the older name for Ghent, 'Ganda', is derived from the Celtic word ganda which means confluence.  Other sources connect its name with an obscure deity named Gontia.

There are no written records of the Roman period but archaeological research confirms that the region of Ghent was further inhabited.

When the Franks invaded the Roman territories (from the end of the 4th century and well into the 5th century) they brought their language with them and Celtic and Latin were replaced by Old Dutch.


Middle Ages

Around 650, Saint Amand founded two abbeys in Ghent: St. Peter's(Blandinium) and St Bavo's Abbey (nl). The city grew from several nuclei, the abbeys and a commercial centre. Around 800, Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, appointed Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne, as abbot of both abbeys. In 851 and 879, the city was however attacked and plundered twice by the Vikings.

Within the protection of the County of Flanders, the city recovered and flourished from the 11th century, growing to become a small city-state. By the 13th century, Ghent was the biggest city in Europe north of the Alps after Paris; it was bigger than Cologne, orMoscow.  Within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people. The belfry and the towers of the Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas' Church are just a few examples of the skyline of the period.

The rivers flowed in an area where a lot of land was periodically flooded. These richly grassed 'meersen' ("water-meadows": a word related to the English 'marsh') were ideally suited for herding sheep, the wool of which was used for making cloth. During the Middle Ages Ghent was the leading city for cloth.

The wool industry, originally established at Bruges, created the first European industrialized zone in Ghent in the High Middle Ages. The mercantile zone was so highly developed that wool had to be imported from Scotland and England. This was one of the reasons for Flanders' good relationship with Scotland and England. Ghent was the birthplace of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Trade with England (but not Scotland) suffered significantly during the Hundred Years' War.


Early modern period

The city recovered in the 15th century, when Flanders was united with neighbouring provinces under the Dukes of Burgundy. High taxes led to a rebellion and eventually the Battle of Gavere in 1453, in which Ghent suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of Philip the Good. Around this time the centre of political and social importance in the Low Countries started to shift from Flanders (Bruges–Ghent) to Brabant (Antwerp–Brussels), although Ghent continued to play an important role. With Bruges, the city led two revolts against Maximilian of Austria, the first monarch of the House of Habsburg to rule Flanders.

In 1500, Juana of Castile gave birth to Charles V, who became Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Although native to Ghent, he punished the city after the 1539 Revolt of Ghent and obliged the city's nobles to walk in front of the Emperor barefoot with a noose (Dutch: "strop") around the neck; since this incident, the people of Ghent have been called "Stroppendragers" (noose bearers). The Saint Bavo Cathedral (nl) (Saint Bavo Abbey) was abolished, torn down, and replaced with a fortress for Royal Spanish troops. Only a small portion of the cathedral-abbey was spared demolition.

The late 16th and the 17th centuries brought devastation because of the Eighty Years' War. The war ended the role of Ghent as a centre of international importance. In 1745, the city was captured by French forces during the War of the Austrian Succession before being returned to the Empire of Austria of the House of Habsburg following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when this part of Flandersbecame known as the Austrian Netherlands until 1815, the exile of the French Emperor Napoleon I, the end of the French Revolutionary and later Napoleonic Wars and the peace treaties arrived at by the Congress of Vienna.


19th century

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the textile industry flourished again in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens, having smuggled the industrial and factory machine plans out of England, introduced the first mechanical weaving machine on the European continent in 1800.

The Treaty of Ghent, negotiated here and adopted on Christmas Eve 1814, formally ended the War of 1812 (the North American phase of the Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and the United States). After the Battle of Waterloo, Ghent and Flanders, previously ruled from the House of Habsburg in Vienna as the Austrian Netherlands, became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands with the northern Dutch for 15 years. In this period, Ghent established its own university (1816)  and a new connection to the sea (1824–27).

After the Belgian Revolution, with the loss of port access to the sea for more than a decade, the local economy collapsed and the first Belgian trade-union originated in Ghent. In 1913 there was a World exhibition in Ghent.  As a preparation for these festivities, the Sint-Pieters railway station was completed in 1912.


20th century

Ghent was occupied by the Germans in both World Wars but escaped severe destruction. The life of the people and the German invaders, in Ghent during World War I is described by H.Wandt in "etappenleven te Gent". In World War II the city was liberated by the British 7th Desert Rats Armoured Division and local Belgian fighters on 6 September 1944.

Climate

The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Ghent has a marine west coast climate.

Climate data for Ghent, Belgium

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)6
(43)
6
(42)
10
(50)
13
(55)
17
(62)
19
(67)
22
(72)
22
(72)
18
(65)
14
(58)
9
(49)
8
(46)
13.7
(56.8)
Average low °C (°F)2
(36)
1
(34)
4
(40)
6
(43)
10
(50)
13
(55)
15
(59)
14
(58)
12
(54)
9
(48)
6
(42)
4
(39)
8
(46.5)
Average precipitation days211520182019161718191919221
Source: Weatherbase 

Economy

The port of Ghent, in the north of the city, is the third largest port of Belgium. It is accessed by the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, which ends near the Dutch port of Terneuzen on the Western Scheldt. The port houses, among others, big companies like ArcelorMittal, Volvo Cars,Volvo Trucks, Volvo Parts, Honda, and Stora Enso.

The Ghent University and a number of research oriented companies are situated in the central and southern part of the city, such as Ablynx, Innogenetics, Cropdesign, Bayer Cropscience.

As the largest city in East-Flanders, Ghent has many hospitals, schools and shopping streets. Flanders Expo, the biggest event hall in Flanders and the second biggest in Belgium, is also located in Ghent. Tourism is becoming a major employer in the local area.

Subdivisions

After the fusions of municipalities in 1965 and 1977, the city is made up of:

  • I Ghent
  • II Mariakerke
  • III Drongen
  • IV Wondelgem
  • V Sint-Amandsberg
  • VI Oostakker
  • VII Desteldonk
  • VIII Mendonk
  • IX Sint-Kruis-Winkel
  • X Ledeberg
  • XI Gentbrugge
  • XII Afsnee
  • XIII Sint-Denijs-Westrem
  • XIV Zwijnaarde

Neighbouring municipalities

  • Wachtebeke
  • Lochristi
  • Destelbergen
  • Melle
  • Merelbeke
  • De Pinte
  • Sint-Martens-Latem
  • Deinze
  • Nevele
  • Lovendegem
  • Evergem
  • Zelzate

Internet, Comunication

Telephone

If you want to call to North America, find the "Club Plus" card. Do not be talked into any other card. They are usually found at the nightshops (Nacht Winkels). You can get more than 200 minutes to North America for €5 from a payphone. This is great since payphones cost quite a lot if you just insert money.


Internet

In recent years, the number of Internet Cafes has grown very rapidly; it is always very easy to find one within walking distance. The going price ranges from €1.50-3 per hour. There is also free wifi on the Graslei near the center. Above, a great variety of wifi networks are available in hotels, bars and snackbars. Sometimes in return for making use of their services. Also Ghent is widely supported for mobile networks, all major operators have high speed networks, data roaming is available if you have supporting devices.

Prices in Ghent

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter€0.75
Tomatoes1 kg€2.00
Cheese0.5 kg€5.50
Apples1 kg€2.25
Oranges1 kg€3.00
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€1.25
Bottle of Wine1 bottle€6.00
Coca-Cola2 liters€2.70
Bread1 piece
Water1.5 l€1.90

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2€30.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2
Dinner (High-range)for 2€60.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal€8.00
Water0.33 l€1.92
Cappuccino1 cup€2.80
Beer (Imported)0.33 l€3.00
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€3.00
Coca-Cola0.33 l€2.20
Coctail drink1 drink€8.00

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets€18.00
Gym1 month€33.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut
Theatar2 tickets€46.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.€0.21
Pack of Marlboro1 pack€5.80

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack€7.00
Tampons32 pieces€5.00
Deodorant50 ml.€3.90
Shampoo400 ml.€3.00
Toilet paper4 rolls€1.30
Toothpaste1 tube€2.40

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1€66.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1€41.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1€82.00
Leather shoes1€102.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter€1.39
TaxiStart
Taxi1 km
Local Transport1 ticket€2.40

Tourist (Backpacker)  

65 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

255 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

The two biggest airports nearby are Brussels (Zaventem, Belgium) and Lille (France). Direct trains are available from Brussels Airport to Ghent.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

Ghent is only a 30-minute train ride away from Brussels and is on the line from Brussels to Bruges and the coast. If you're planning to visit Bruges and Brussels, definitely stop over in Ghent as well. There are also direct trains to Brussels Airport, Antwerp, and Lille.

There are two train stations in Ghent, Gent-Dampoort and Gent-Sint-Pieters. Gent-Sint-Pieters is the main station, to go to the centre, take tram 1 (until 'Korenmarkt'). Journey time is ten minutes. Gent-Dampoort is located closer to the center (about 15 minutes walk), but only trains coming from/in the direction of Antwerp stop there.

If you're visiting from Bruges, Brussels or Antwerp during the weekend, it's much cheaper to get a return ticket (special rate: weekendreturn).

 

Transportation - Get In

By Car

The dense highway network in Belgium allows you to access Ghent easily by car. Two main highways E40 (Liège-Brussels-Ghent-Bruges-Ostend) and E17 (Antwerp-Ghent-Kortrijk-Lille) cross at Ghent. Brussels and Antwerp are 40 min away, Bruges 30 min. During rush hour you can easily double these times.


Transportation - Get Around

The center of Ghent is quite small, so you can walk around on foot. However, the main station (Gent Sint-Pieters) is not in the city center, but takes a walk of about half an hour. The best option is to take the tram, which takes you directly to the center in 10 to 15 minutes.

Transportation - Get Around

By Public Transport

The transport system is Ghent is excellent and usually on time. A single ticket costs € 3 and can be bought in the bus/tram or from ticket machines near stops, such ticket is valid for an hour's travel on all trams and buses. If you are planning to stay for a while, buy a pass for € 14.00, it is valid for 10 trips within the city and can also be used in other Flemish cities (such as Antwerp or Bruges). The trams are the quickest and most comfortable way to travel, especially from the railway station to the city centre.

Note that if the bus/tram stop has a ticket machine, you will have to buy the ticket there, as the bus/tram driver will not sell you one in this case. You can also buy a ticket through SMS if you have a Belgian cell phone, instructions are on the poles at each stop. The transportation company is De Lijn.

In the Lijnwinkel kiosk (located near Sint-Pieters train station), you can get free map of city and surroundings, with all bus and tram lines.

Transportation - Get Around

By bicycle

A bicycle is the recommended way to get around in Ghent. However, there are many roads with cobblestones that make cycling a shaking experience. Also make sure you stay clear of the tram rails. Nevertheless, you will see you are not alone on your bike: many inhabitants use bikes to get around. Even the former mayor uses his bicycle all day! There are many bike stands around to make it easy to lock your bike (important!). Many one-way roads are made two-way for bikes.

 

Hotels

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Hotels

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Shopping

  • Cuberdon - Gentse neus (Ghent nose), purple cone shaped gum arabic sweets with raspberry centre.
  • Belgium chocolate Praline
  • Prondelmarkt bij Sint-Jacobs (Sint-Jacobs flea market). Antiques, second-hand records, books, and others can be found in the weekly flea markt at Sint-Jacobs. It is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8am to 1pm. Prices can be high, but keen eyes can find a lot of gems!
  • Tweedehandsboekenmarkt (Second-hand books market). Inspired by the second-hand booksellers of Paris (Bouquinistes), every Sunday from 9am to 1am you can stroll along the Ajuinlei to find a large assortment of second-hand books. The supply includes English books from the bookshop 'English Book Shop', located also in the Ajuinlei (and also open at regular hours in the rest of the week), movie posters, art books, children's books and a smattering of various other niches.
  • Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market). Vrijdagmarkt has been a fixture since the 13th century. It is the scene of a lively street markets on Friday (7:30am-1pm) and Saturday (11am-6pm), as well as the Sunday bird market (7am-1pm).

Restaurants

Ghent provides an excellent and affordable sample of Flemish cuisine, which in the eyes of the locals is one of Europe's finest as it combines French delicacy with northern European sturdiness. Try some local specialties like mussels, spare ribs or 'stoverij' (a kind of tender meat cooked for three hours in dark beer with a brown gravy) with Belgian fries.

Another dish from Ghent is the "Gentse waterzooi" (litt. "boiled water from Ghent"), which was the food for the poor originally, a stew of cheap fish (usually turbot) and vegetables. Now it is often made with chicken as well.

Belgium Waffle are available from a number of street stalls around the town.

The restaurants on Korenmarkt and Vrijdagmarkt are a good deal, reasonably priced; the menus and 'menus of the day' at the Brasserie Borluut provide terrific value and this includes Gentse waterzooi. The real upmarket restaurants are to be found in the 14th century quarter called 'Patershol', near the Castle. There is also a big Turkish community in Ghent, centred around Sleepstraat a bit further north, which is home to numerous Turkish restaurants.

  • Soup Lounge, Zuivelbrugstraat 6. 10:00-19:00. Popular place to get a reasonable priced soup.
  • Belfort Restaurant (Stadscafe), Emile Braunplein 40,  +32 9 223 35 65.Good place for breakfas, French or English style.
  • De LieveSint-Margrietstraat 1, 9000 Gent (one block away from Gravensteen castle), +32 9 223 29 47. kitchen 11am-11pm. Formerly serving haute cuisine and having Michelin stars, this restaurant has stepped out of the culinary rat race and changed its focus to the 'classics'. A great place to try Flemish cuisine. It's part bar, so don't be surprised when you see the regulars coming in for a drink. Due to its quality and price it's popular with both students and adults. €7,5-25 for main course.
  • De Kuip Van GentKorenmarkt 32,  +32 9 225 07 83. Serve a good Stoverij with fries.
  • Neptune (Neptune), Sint-Veerleplein 10, 9000 Gent. Really pleasant and friendly little place immediately opposite Gravensteen castle. Husband & wife run (with two children running around for good measure). Was a bit set back when welcomed in French and English, not Dutch, but neither food nor prices as touristy as the welcome suggested. Yummy local specialties, the Stoverij (beef stew) is particularly good €14-25 for main course.
  • Cafe TwilightKorenmarkt 36, e-mail: . Good place for meals or somewhere sit down inside to have a Belgium Waffle on a cold afternoon
  • Pampas, Burgstraat 1,  +32 9 233 68 66. The place to go if you need a meat protein boost.

Vegetarian/Vegan Food

Information on vegetarian restaurants and shops is available from the campaign group EVA. Paper copies of their Guide to Veggie Ghent map is stocked by the Tourist Information Office on Veerle Plein.

  • Komkommertijd (Cucumber Time), Reep 14,  +32 9 269 02 10. An all-you-can eat vegan buffet in the historic town centre. Prices include dessert but not drinks.
  • De AppelierCitadellaan 47 (located to the South of the historic centre, near St. Pieters Station),  +32 9 221 67 33. A restaurant serving traditional vegetarian food (with vegan options on request).
  • Tasty WorldHoogpoort 1,  +32 9 225 74 07. A fast-food bar selling vegetarian & vegan burgers as well as smoothies/juices, with two branches in Ghent. There are some tables for eating in.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Belfort en Lakenhalle (Belfry and Cloth Hall), Emile Braunplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Baafsplein),  +32 09 223 99 22.Mid-Mar to mid-Nov daily 10am-12:30pm and 2-6pm; free guided tours of Belfry Easter vacations and May-Sept Tues-Sun 2:10, 3:10, and 4:10pm.
    The Belfry was a symbol of the city's autonomy, begun in 1313 and completed in 1380. This municipal tower holds the great bells that have rung out Ghent's civic pride through the centuries. Take the elevator to the Belfry's upper gallery, 66m high, to see the bells and take in fantastic panoramic views of the city. The Cloth Hall dates from 1425 and was the gathering place of wool and cloth merchants.
    8€ adults, free for children under 16.
  • Sint-Baafskathedraal (St. Bavo's Cathedral), Sint-Baafsplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Baafsplein),  +32 9 269 20 45.
    Cathedral: Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 8:30am-6pm, Sun 1-6pm; Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 8:30am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm.
    Mystic Lamb chapel and crypt: Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm; Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 10:30am-4pm, Sun 1-4pm
    .
    Don't miss this cathedral. Rather unimpressive exterior of Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture. However, the interior is filled with priceless paintings and sculptures, including the 24-panel altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", completed by Jan van Eyck in 1432. Simply spellbinding, this work was commissioned by a wealthy city alderman in 1420. Original Alterpiece "Adoration of Mystic Lamb" temporary and partial closed. Since April 2010 a scientific study and conservation works are in progress. Visitors can follow the activities trough a glass wall). Other art treasures in the cathedral include Rubens's restored "The Conversion of St. Bavo" from 1623.
    Cathedral: Free admission; Mystic Lamb chapel and crypt: 4€ adults (+€1 audio guide in English, recommended), 1.50€ children 6-12, free for children under 6.
  • Het Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts), Sint-Veerleplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Veerleplein),  +32 9 225 93 06. Apr-Sept daily 9am-6pm; Oct-Mar daily 9am-5pm. Closed Jan 1, Dec 24-25 and 31.
    Built by Count Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders, soon after he returned from the Crusades in 1180 with images of similar crusader castles in the Holy Land. If its walls (2m thick), battlements, and turrets failed to intimidate attackers, the count could always turn to a well-equipped torture chamber inside. You can view relics of the chamber in a small museum in the castle. Climb up to the ramparts of the high central building, the donjon, which has great views of Ghent's rooftops and towers.
    10€ adults (movie guide included), 6€ Discount (groups of min. 15 p, +55 years, 19-26 years), Free: -19 years, companions of the disabled persons, € 3,00 Movieguide.
  • Sint-Niklaaskerk (St Nicholas's Church), Korenmarkt (entrance on Cataloniestraat) (tram 1 or 4 to Korenmarkt),  +32 9 225 37 00. Mon 2:30-5pm; Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. A mixture of surviving Romanesque elements of the Flemish architectural style known as Schelde Gothic, the impressive 13th- to 15th-century church was paid for by Ghent's wealthy medieval merchants and guilds. In recent years, it has undergone extensive renovation work that's still ongoing. The tower is one of the "three towers of Ghent" - in fact, it was the first of the three to grace the city skyline. Free admission.
  • VooruitSint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23,  +32 9 267 28 20. With its strong socialist tradition, Ghent is laden with historic buildings testifying to power of the social-democratic movement. The cooperative 'Vooruit' (Progress) was running shops, bakeries, a newspaper, a cinema and a cultural centre for the labour movement. Some of the buildings are exquisite examples of late 19th/early 20th century art nouveau and art deco. Main examples can be found on Vrijdagsmarkt (the headquarter 'Ons Huis' - Our House - still in use today by the trade union) and the Kunstencentrum Vooruit on Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat, cultural temple of the labour movement and today in use as an Arts Centre and concert hall.
  • Groentenmarkt, Korenmarkt & Vrijdagmarkt. Groentenmarkt (literally: vegetable market, Korenmarkt (literally: corn market) and Vrijdagmarkt (literally: Friday market) are 3 public squares in central Gent. These 3 squares are in close proximity and feature classic buildings, cafes and restaurants.
  • Leie. The Leie is a canal-like river going through the city. Along much of the river, there are walkways, and near the city centre one can see classic buildings along the banks. At the south end of Lindenlei (a street along the Leie south of the city centre), one can see a somewhat old-fashion drawbridge.
  • Graslei. The medieval harbour is a beautiful setting with many historic buildings, including the house of the Grain Weighers, the toll house, and the Guildhall of the Free Boatmen, fronting onto the river Leie.
  • Groot Begijnhof Sint-Elisabeth (Old Saint Elisabeth Béguinage), Begijnhofdriespark (1 km west of Gravensteen). This béguinage (dutch: begijnhof) was founded in 1234 and was soon named after Saint-Elisabeth who was canonized in 1236. The last beguines departed from here in 1874 for the new Sint-Amandsberg béguinage.
  • Begijnhof Sint-AmandsbergEngelbert Van Arenbergstraat or Jan Roomsstraat (About 1¼ km east of Korenmarkt; ½ km east of Station Gent-Dampoort). This begijnhof (Béguinage) has several curved streets. Gates are off of Engelbert Van Arenbergstraat or Jan Roomsstraat.
  • Begijnhof Ter HoyeLange Violettestraat (about 1¼ km south-east of Korenmarkt). This béguinage (begijnhof) has several streets.
  • Stadhuis (city hall)Botermarkt 1(near Korenmarkt). There is a Gothic facade facing the street Hoogpoort and a Renaissance facade facing the street Botermarkt. (Botermarkt literally means butter market.) Indoors, there are different styles.
  • Graffiti alleyWerregarenstraat (between Hoogpoort and Onderstraat).Where the local graffiti artists are allowed to do their work. Although other around the town on buildings are of better quality and artistic value.
  • Groot Vleeshuis (Meet house), Groentenmarkt 7. See the hams hanging from the timbers of the roof which is constructed without the use of nails.
  • Rabot (Old Gate), Opgeëistenlaan 1. 15th century gate over the canal into the city. The canal used to connect the town to the north sea but now stops at this gate which is framed by 1960's housing blocks.

Museums & Galleries

  • STAM – Ghent city museumGodshuizenlaan 2,  +32 9 267 14 00. Tells the story of Ghent in the 14th century Bijloke Abbey. The abbey refectory shows pre-Eyckian wall paintings. STAM illustrates the story of Ghent by means of more than 300 historical objects and interactive multimedia applications with a lot of visual material. Temporary exhibitions reflect on different aspects of urbanity. The visitor can build Ghent in LEGO bricks. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
  • The Museum Dr. Guislain – a museum on the history of mental healthJozef Guislainstraat 43,  +32 9 216 35 95. Was founded in 1986 in Ghent, Belgium, and its exhibits address the history of psychiatry in a permanent collection and through a series of half-yearly changing thematic exhibitions. These temporary exhibitions highlight a certain aspect of the history of mental health so as to tell a broader story about our society’s way of dealing with normality through the arts, history, and science. Comprehensively, the Museum seeks to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness. The Museum Dr. Guislain attracts about 65,000 visitors each year. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users, and all texts are in Dutch, French and English.
  • SMAK (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst) (in Citadelpark). Well-known modern arts museum.
  • Design museum GentJan Breydelstraat 5,  +32 9 267 99 99, e-mail: .Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00-18:00. Design museum Gent is the only design museum in Belgium. It possesses an extensive collection of Belgian design objects, supported by international pieces. The collection spans the era from the art nouveau of Henry van de Velde up to today's avant-garde design.
  • MIAT (Museum about industry, labour and textile), Minnemeers 9,  +329 269 42 00. Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00-18:00. This museum housed in a former industrial building brings industrial heritage to life by means of exhibitions, workshops and film Sundays. Industry, labour and textiles are seamlessly interwoven. €6 for adults, €2 for people aged 19 to 25.
  • Huis van Alijn (The House of Alijn), Kraanlei 65,  +32 9 235 38 00, e-mail: . Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00-17:30. Sunday: 10:00-17:30. The House of Alijn displays cultural artifacts of Flemish recent and not so recent past. The visitor attains more insight into Flemish heritage by looking at old photograph albums, jewelry, old toys and so on. These objects reveal the spirit of the times as well as ways and customs and they remind us of the days in the past.€6 for adults, €2 for people aged 19 to 26.

Things to do

  • De Bootjes van Gent (Rederij Dewaele Canal Cruise), Graslei or Korenlei,  +32 9 223 88 53. April to October, daily from 10am to 6pm, and November to March on weekends from 11am to 4pm. A cruise on the canals is a good way to view the city's highlights. The tour lasts approximately 40 minutes; longer tours are available. 7€ for adults; 6.50€ for seniors, students, and those under 26; 4.00€ for children aged 3 to 12; free for children under 3.
  • GratisInGent.be (Free events in Ghent). This website gets updated weekly and lists all the free events they know of. The events include bars organising live music, free movie screenings, lectures, etc. The site was started by the local branch of non-commercial tourist organanisation Use-It. It has since been taken over by the non-profit Gentblogt vzw, which is the collective formed around a prolific group blog about Ghent by and for people from Ghent.
  • Jan Plezier BoottochtenSnepkaai or Ketelvest,  +32 475 69 68 80. Large parties can reserve themed cruises along the waterways of Ghent. Amonth the themes are the pancake cruise (pancake boat), the spareribs cruise, and the shrimp cruise. These cruises are most often held for large parties; individual tourists are better off choosing a tour of Dewaele or hiring a boat to steer yourself.pancake boat = 11.5€ for adults; 9.50€ for children aged under 6 to 12; free for children under 6.
  • Alternative Free Walking Tour. Every day at 4 PM an alternative walking tour starting from the Gravensteen castle. Different perspective on the city and lots of fun.

Festivals and events

The city is host to some big cultural events such as the Gentse Feesten, I Love Techno in Flanders Expo, "10 Days Off" musical festival, the International Film Festival of Ghent (with the World Soundtrack Awards) and the Gent Festival van Vlaanderen (nl). Also, every five years, a huge botanical exhibition (Gentse Floraliën) takes place in Flanders Expo in Ghent, attracting numerous visitors to the city.

The Festival of Flanders had its 50th celebration in 2008. In Ghent it opens with the OdeGand City festivities that takes place on the second Saturday of September. Some 50 concerts take place in diverse locations throughout the medieval inner city and some 250 international artists perform. Other major Flemish cities hold similar events, all of which form part of the Festival of Flanders (Antwerp with Laus Polyphoniae; Bruges with MAfestival; Brussels with KlaraFestival; Limburg withBasilica, Mechelen and Brabant with Novecento and Transit).

  • Ghent Festival (Gentse Feesten): 17-26 July 2015 . is a music and theatre festival in the city. Besides stage events there are random small street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. The festival starts on the Saturday before July 21 (Belgium's national holiday) and lasts ten days. About 2 million visitors attend the festival every year, making it one of the biggest cultural and popular festivals in Europe.

Nightlife

For authentic pubs, go to St. Veerleplein (the square in front of the Castle), the pubs around St. Jacob's church (especially during weekends), or the student area around Blandijnberg (Mount Blandin), especially in the proximity of the School of Arts and Philosophy, recognisable from afar by the 64 metres tall art deco Library Tower. Ghent is known for its many pubs and clubs and most have friendly staff. If you visit Ghent for it's great nightlife, be sure to check out the bars listed in the "Off the beaten path" section.


Central Area: Castle-Korenmarkt-Graslei

  • Waterhuis aan de bierkant (The Waterhouse on the beerside), Groentenmarkt 9 (near the Castle),  +32 9 225 06 80, e-mail:. Boasts about 400 different kinds of Belgian beer, but is fairly touristy.
  • Het Galgenhuis (the Gallows house) (near Waterhuis aan de bierkant). A tiny tavern in a lean-to built on to the Gothic Butchers' Hall. A good selection of draught and bottled beers.
  • 't DreupelkotGroentenmarkt 12 (near the Castle),  +32 9 224 21 20, e-mail: . 200 kinds of Belgian genever, a number of which are home made. Try the pepper genever if you are a tough guy/girl (be cautious!). Pol, the owner, is a friendly guy, although it might look the other way at first sight. Around € 2 for a regular-sized genever.
  • Het Velootje (The Little Bike), Kalversteeg 2 (between the Castle and Vrijdagmarkt). Considered as the only tourist trap of Ghent, but even with this negative reputation it's worth a visit. The bearded owner Lieven calls his place a museum café with an authentic atmosphere by candlelight. This is all true but forgot to mention his collection of 200 antique bikes decorating the place. Drinks are steep. everything costs €4.5.
  • DamberdKorenmarkt. Live jazz pub.

Sint-Jacobs & Vrijdagmarkt (Vlasmarkt-Beestenmarkt)

  • CharlatanVlasmarkt 6. Popular club with many live concerts.
  • Surrounded by the bars Jos, Vlasmarkt 7 and Bar des Amis, Vlasmarkt 5.
  • de Dulle Griet, Vrijdagmarkt 50, A traditional Flemish bar with a variety of 250 drinks (mostly Belgian beers).

Student Area

  • Overpoortstraat is a street packed with 34 pubs and bars where during the week (especially Wednesday and Thursday nights) all the students go crazy. Because on Thursday it is so crowded over there, dancing usually happens on the tables. Some notorious bars/clubs are Decadance (house, techno, drum&bass), Boom Boom (rock'n roll), Den Drummer (rock and metal), Twieoo (often new wave and holebi parties), Cuba Libre (also known as the Puta Libre) (commercial, R&B, etc.), The Frontline underground concert venue featuring mainly metal, punk and hardcore concerts.
  • Porter HouseStalhof 1 (near the Overpoortstraat). The official pub for Erasmus students from over Europe.
  • Plan bVerlorenkost 17,  +32 498 10 66 03. Typical cosy local bar located in the center of Ghent. Nice view on the river.
  • De Geus van GentKantienberg 9,  +32 (0)9 220 78 25, e-mail:. Monday to Friday: from 16:00, on Saturdays from 19:00. Closed on Sundays. 20 beers on top with very pleasant outdoor seating next to the river in summer.

Off the beaten path

Want to try some bars you won't find in any tourist guide? This is a great selection:

  • Het Gouden Hoofd (The Golden Head), Slachthuisstraat 96. If you find yourself on the other side of the canal, in the area known as "De Visserij", hungry and/or thirsty, be sure to check out this great place. It moved a few weeks ago to an old slaughterhouse. They have great dishes and the local beer on tap, Gulden Draak, is also great.

This is not the only great place in De Visserij. Check out the cosy De Kleine Kunstand jolly Fabula Rasa along the canal at the Ferdinand Lousbergkaai. Drinks and food are generally quite cheap in this area.

  • El NegocitoBrabantdam 121.

You may have heard about the beautiful "Red light district" that Ghent has, better known as "Het Glazen Straatje" (The Glass Street). Just across you can find this lovely Chilean bar. Every week you can pick up a concert from a band of the associated record label. You can try the lovely local cuisine and some of the imported specialities like Pisco Sour or Malta Con Huevo (Beer with egg). Although this place is somewhere between the city centre and Zuid-area, its prices are below average.

  • Hotsy TotsyHoogstraat 1. Not far from the Graslei you can find this pearl. In a roaring twenties style this place breathes jazz. It's a good alternative for the sometimes crowded Hot Club De Gand. Prices are average to expensive, but the atmosphere is one of a kind.
  • Old FashionedHoogpoort 1. Ghent doesn't have a lack of bars, but finding a good cocktail bar might be tough. You might be glad with some other cocktail bars near the centre that have fruity drinks with cheap alcohol and not a drop of fresh juice, but some local connoisseurs consider Old Fashioned to be the only "Cocktail & Absinth bar" that is worth its name. They serve all the classics in a beautiful Medieval decor.
  • De Spinnekop, Einde were 44. If you have found this bar on your own you must have been really lost. The name of the street means "End of the world", and it feels like it. This was Ghent's best kept secret and has existed for many years, but now it's in the open. This bar is what people in Ghent call a "brown bar". It's a bit sleazy but clean nonetheless. The food is simple although the home made pesto pasta is amazing. Dirt cheap as well. It has the widely known beer, La Chouffe, on tap for around €2, food is €12 max and has great vegetarian alternatives. 90% chance that you will hear Bob Dylan or Tom Waits. Only open in the evening on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (6 PM) and Sunday (8 PM). In the summer you can sit outside in the garden.
  • Gentse Stadsbrouwerij Gruut (Gruut Brewery), Grote Huidevettershoek 10. Brewing beers with Gruit herbs. Small brewery that caters to groups so dropping in you may not get much service.

Safety in Ghent

 

Very High / 9.8

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.9

Safety (Walking alone - night)

Belgium - Travel guide

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