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Ghent is one of the three great cities of northern Flanders (alongside Antwerp and Bruges), with a proud medieval past as a prosperous inland port that has left it with a skyline pricked by spires. Today it is a prosperous commercial centre, with a famous university to give it a lively injection of youth. Its greatest treasure is in the cathedral: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, by Jan van Eyck. But it also has a host of rewarding museums, including SMAK – a centre for contemporary art of global standing. Plenty to do, plenty to see, but it is also a place to amble around the medieval streetplan, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the cafés, bars and restaurants.
In the Ghent Port, the medieval architecture of Ghent, Belgium will enchant the cruise tourist. The third biggest Belgian city talks Flemish it can be found in the East Flanders province. Flowers are its greatest exports. The Lys and Scheldt Rivers saw the standard origins of the settlement. Throughout the Dark Ages, Ghent accomplished a picture like a wealthy Northern European city because of the clothing industry. "Ghent Fests", a street festival, is well known for ten days every year. Since Ghent, Belgium is really a vehicle-free city, cruise vacationers can leave their cars in the Park and Ride zones upon arrival in the Ghent cruise terminal. Buses offer free rides on Saturday or Sunday nights. If you like vehicle-free destinations that are as known for waterways as for for their architectural marvels, this is your manna from heaven.
Brugge (Bruges) might be the greater known -- and perhaps better searching -- of Belgium's medieval metropolitan areas, but Ghent (Gent) is a practicable alternative, because it is bigger (two times the populace), more authentic and fewer crowded, especially throughout peak summer time several weeks. Its convenient location puts it almost equidistant from Brugge, the city and Antwerp.
In medieval occasions, Ghent was second simply to Paris in energy and population. The origin of their wealth was the building of cloth, using imported British made wool. Ghent seemed to be when a major buying and selling port, because of its ideal location in the intersection of two rivers (Schelde and Leie) and along a network of hooking up waterways. Today, the rivers are utilized mostly for pleasure barges and sightseeing launches -- the second suggested instead of walking -- and also the city's heady past is reflected within the richness of their social, commercial, religious and residential architecture.
Ghent is arrived at through the cruise ports of Antwerp or Zeebrugge. (River boat people arrive just outdoors the town center.) You don't need to be alone inside a bus there -- the very best techniques of transportation are a couple of ft, two wheels or perhaps a boat. Actually, the majority of Ghent's historic center is vehicle-free, and it is narrow lanes are inviting to understand more about. And, when you are not walking, you can stare in the city's eclectic architecture -- may it be the 3 towers of Ghent (the belfry, St. Bavo's Cathedral and St. Nicholas' Chapel), the foreboding Gravensteen Castle, the schizophrenic Stadhuis or even the elegant facades across the Graslei and Korenlei Rivers.
Where You are Docked
Large ships pier at Zeebrugge or Antwerp. At Zeebrugge, a sizable commercial port, most lines provide shuttle buses to Blankenberg railway station. Hourly trains run, via Brugge, to Ghent Sint-Pieters and onto the city. The fare to Ghent is all about 14.60 pounds, round trip, for that 45-minute ride. Senior citizens, except on summer time weekends, only pay 4 pounds, round trip, to the station in Belgium. The fare doubles on weekends but continues to be a good deal. The Belgian Seaside Tramway runs from Zeebrugge to Blankenberg and also to a seaside resort of Ostend every 10-20 minutes, with respect to the season.
If you are docked at Antwerp, catch a train every 30 minutes from Central Station to Ghent. The ride takes 50 minutes. Ghent is another stop on some river cruise itineraries, especially tulip season cruise ships. River motorboats pier about two kilometers in the city, and also the transfer towards the city center takes about five to ten minutes. (Transportation is generally provided -- otherwise, taxis is all about 15 pounds each way.)
The cruise people are going to be awed upon coming in the Ghent cruise port. The Medieval architecture is maintained and produces a powerful presence. Northern Renaissance style is noted in the Saint Bavo Cathedral in which the Adoration from the Mystic Lamb (Ghent Altarpiece) and also the Conversion of St Bavo are located. The altarpiece painting is 24-sections lengthy.
To determine Ghent from the high-rise perspective, go to the Belfry. This tower, stands at 295 ft it provides an attractive city view and it is regarded as like a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Site visitors can explore the inside of Gravensteen castle or Castle from the Counts completely to the peak. Historic torture materials are available inside. Old Graslei harbor also presents enchanting architecture.
Cruise vessels small and large, It is customary that inland cruises call at Ghent. The season is about halfway through now and in all, some 300 inland cruise vessels will have called at Ghent port this year, which is a record. However, in the past port of Ghent did receive more sea cruise vessels. In May 2014 the port was able to welcome the ‘National Geographic Explorer’ expedition ship, in October 2013 the ‘Marco Polo’ came to pay a visit, in May 2012 the ‘Bremen’ moored at the Rigakaai and in December 2011 and June 2010 the passenger ship ‘Saga Pearl II’ could be admired in the port.
Making Your Way Around
In the fortress-style Ghent Sint-Pieters railway station, take trams 1, 10 or 11 in to the city center. Note the 100s of bicycles arranged within the forecourt -- they are meant for individuals, but anybody may use them, totally free, as lengthy as they are came back towards the station. The half-hour walk (about two kilometers) in to the center can also be suggested, because the enjoyable route follows an industrial shopping street (just like the tram route) and goes through the college quarter. By going one block left, you may also parallel among the city's many waterways, which are lined with barge-type houseboats. Once within the city center, things are within easy walking distance. The tourist bureau is situated within the vaulted basement from the 14th century Belfort (belfry) on Botermarkt. You'll find maps and guide of restaurants. Free toilet facilities are situated adjacent
Saint-James, Saint Michael, and Saint-Nicolas are the favorite and delightful places of worship. Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of proper Arts) keeps the works of art of Flemish masters including Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch. City Museum for Contemporary Art or SMAK is definitely the works of Andy Warhol and Frederick Beuys in the last century. The skill of Le Corbusier and Victor Horta are treasured within the Design museum. Children’s puppet shows and folk theater shows are viewed at Huis van Alijn.
Henry Van de Velde’s modern pieces of art are noticed with the Boekentoren or Book Tower. Gentse Feesten, "10 Slow Days" musical festival, and International Festival van Vlaanderen Gent are famous cultural occasions that may be experienced. Gentse Floraliën is really a grand botanical exhibition presented every five years. Throughout the year, boat day tours can be found that get you up and lower waterways with multilingual guides. Winter months has only weekend tours.Be cautious about your possessions while in throngs of people otherwise, there's without any street crime.
Don't Miss
Walking Tour from the City: The easiest method to see Ghent's highlights is by a self-led walking tour. You are able to get walking tour maps within the tourist office (see Making Your Way Around). The walk may take from 2 to 4 hrs, based on which sights are visited and whether you pause for supper.
A number of three linked squares comprises the city's social and spiritual center, moored by Scheldt Medieval St. Nicolas' Chapel, the 14th century belfort, the intense Medieval-Renaissance staduis (city hall), the Social Theater and St. Baaf's (St. Bavo's) Cathedral. Start your tour having a wild birds-eye look at the town. Go ahead and take elevator or stairs to the top belfry, which is a World Heritage Site. (Admission is 3 pounds.) The tower increases over the Lakenhalle (cloth hall), representing the produced Ghent's wealth.
While entry in to the opposite St. Baaf's Cathedral is free of charge, you will need to pay a 3-euro admission fee to determine "The Adoration from the Mystic Lamb," among the world's earliest oil works of art, carried out 1432 by Flemish primitive artist Jan Van Eyck. The 20-paneled altarpiece signifies the glorification of Christ's dying. The disposable area of the cathedral exhibits other art treasures, like a Rubens and wonderful stained glass home windows.
Stick to the walking guide route past Sint-Jorishof -- reputed is the earliest HOTEL IN Europe -- to Romanesque and Medieval St. Jacob's Chapel, which dates in the twelfth century, and onto Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market). The big square is nicely rimmed by Flemish-style former guild halls, coffee shops, bookstores and style shops back in the day the city's most significant focus due to its commercial connections. Statesman Jacob Van Artevelde's statue graces the middle. His close links using the British king resulted in Ghent and Flanders continued to be neutral and prosperous throughout the Century War. A produce and clothing marketplace is situated there on Fridays.
Exiting the square towards the west, the road will give you beyond the boutiques of high-fashion Flemish designers and also to the Zuivelbrug that crosses the Leie River to Patershol -- the city's maintained medieval quarter. The 2 impressive 17th century houses that lie straight ahead are adorned with depictions from the Six Works of Whim and also the Five Senses.
Patershol's lanes are absolutely charming, and so do a wander, read the restaurant menus, and have a look in the mattress-and-breakfast inns. Kraanlei runs across the canalized river, past Alijn Hospice -- small attached bungalows, set around a courtyard, that when offered like a refuge for ladies. You are able to walk inside for any look without having to pay the doorway fee for that early twentieth century lifestyle exhibits.
Lower the road, the huge twelfth century Gravensteen (Castle from the Counts) overcomes everything around it. A huge spider web, an artifact from a skill exhibition, decorates the facade. Properly, the interior is every bit sinister, with good examples of torture products, a dungeon and guillotine. Nearby structures, housing former seafood and meat marketplaces -- now exhibition halls for East Flanders produce -- face the waterways.
Crossing the Lieve River, turn left on Jan Breydelstraat and pass a captivating waterside park and also the Design Museum using its shows of furnishings, in the Renaissance to Art Nouveau, that Belgium is justly famous. Canal cruise ships leave after that (Korenlei and Graslei). In days of old (eleventh century), the basin was Ghent's principal commercial harbor.
Sint-Michielsbrug (a bridge) supplies a splendid look at the town and also the hulking, adjacent St. Michael's Chapel and Het Pand, a handsome former Dominican friary that now goes to Ghent College.
Passing St. Nicolas' Chapel and Metselaarshuis (masons' guild house), you've come full circle.
What to see and do
The Gothic cathedral contains one of the supreme treasures of North European art: the multi-panel altarpiece called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, painted in around 1432 by Jan and Hubrecht van Eyck (www.sintbaafskathedraal-gent.be).
Take the lift up the 14th-century bell tower for a fine view over the city.
Graslei and Korenlei
Medieval guildhouses line a pair of streets, overlooking the former port area on the River Leie. There is a classic view of the city’s spires from the bridge, Sint-Michielsbrug. River and canal trips depart from here, agreeable excursions that show the city from a different perspective.
Design Museum Gent
The history of interior design is told is a sequence of recreated rooms – a delight for all enthusiasts of the decorative arts (closed Mon; www.designmuseumgent.be).
Het Huis van Alijn
This is an excellent folk museum, revealing what life was like for the ordinary folk of Ghent in the 19th century through artefacts, tools, toys, and reconstructed shops and workshops. The building is a 16th-century almshouse, located in the quaint old Patershol district, the former weavers’ quarter (closed Mon; www.huisvanalijn.be).
Het Gravensteen
Ghent’s beefy medieval ‘Castle of the Counts’ is almost impressive enough to overcome the fact that it is dominated by 19th-century reconstruction (open daily; www.visitgent.be).
This splendid 15th-century medieval butchers’ hall, with massive walls and beams, now also hosts a modern glass-box shop and restaurant promoting the food specialities of the province of East Flanders (closed Mon; www.grootvleeshuis.be).
Stadsmuseum Gent (STAM)
Newly reopened after massive renovation to this rambling abbey, the Abdij van de Bijloke (some of which dates back to the 14th century), STAM offers a multi-media account of the history of the city, backed by a selection of the 17,000 antiquities held in its collection (closed Mon, www.stamgent.be).
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK)
This cutting-edge municipal gallery has played a major role in establishing the international reputation of Belgian contemporary art. It has an excellent permanent collection, guaranteed to enthrall and bewilder, and also hosts noted contemporary shows (closed Mon; www.smak.be).
Museum voor Schone Kunsten
Close to SMAK, Ghent’s fine art gallery contains a very respectable collection of pre-modern European (mainly Belgian) art, including work by Hieronymus Bosch, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Courbet, Corot, Rodin, Ensor and Magritte (closed Mon; www.mskgent.be).
Eating Out
Perfect for Local Eats: Tete-a-Tete (Jan Breydelstraat 32) includes a terrace room looking over the canal. District serves Belgian cuisine with primary dishes, varying from 17 to 26 pounds.
Perfect for an easy Meal: For something light, Brooderie (Jan Breydelstraat 8), opposite the look Museum, offers two small tea rooms, serving freshly made soup with bread and vegetable pies for around 8 pounds. Or, try Souplounge, situated at Zuivelbrugstraat 6 (through the bridge), which belongs to a series of eateries that provide light foods and snacks at moderate prices.
Perfect for Worldwide Cuisine: La Malcontenta (Haringsteeg 7), within the Patersol area, serves cuisine from the country and also the Canary Islands, featuring primary courses that vary from 14 to 21 pounds. Paellas really are a niche. If Spanish food is not your scene, Patersol is stuffed with restaurants, so options abound.
Shoreline Activities
In case your ship docks in Zeebrugge or Antwerp, you'll typically find only one, standard trip to Ghent. The town highlights tour combines 1 hour 30 minutes of led walking within the historic city center, spare time and only a trip to a chocolate factory to look at raw sweets being made in order to see Belgian waffles being made.
Look out for those designer boutiques in Vrijdagmarkt. Het Oorcussen is easily the most notable from the shops, but mind by Linen, Korenlei 3, for hand crafted Belgian linens. Pedestrian-only Veldtstraat, running south from Korenmarkt, has the city's shops -- C&A, FNAC and Inno.
The main shopping streets are in the historic centre, in the pedestrianised area that includes Veldstraat and Lange Munt (for the larger high-street chains), and around Mageleinstraat (for independent boutiques). There are markets of various kinds throughout the week, but especially on Fri–Sun, with six on Sunday. For details see www.visitgent.be.
Shopping: Mind for that designer boutiques in Vrijdagmarkt. Het Oorcussen is easily the most notable from the shops, but mind by Linen, Korenlei 3, for hand crafted Belgian linens. Pedestrian-only Veldtstraat, running south from Korenmarkt, has the city's shops -- C&A, FNAC and Inno.

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