“Ghent retains much of its old commercial activity. The buildings in both are very fine and wonderfully picturesque, with some grand historical association meeting you at every corner.”
— from a letter written by Samuel Clark to his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Victor, January 1858
Faces, incorporated into building façades, are a common feature on European buildings, both sacred and profane. Ghent is no exception. There is always someone watching over you, some are animals, such as the winged lion in photo #5.
“Ghent, I found to be an enormous, empty city, with an old Flemish gable-end peeping here and there from its rows of dull, white houses, and various tall and battered old church-towers looking down over deserted, sunny squares.”
— from “Transatlantic Sketches,” 1875, by Henry James (1843-1916)
In the center of Vrijdagmarktplein, Friday Market Square, stands a 36-foot tall tribute opposite bottom to Jacob van Artevelde. Designed by a native of Ghent, Petrus de Vigne-Quoy, this powerful bronze was unveiled by Léopold I, King of the Belgians in 1863.
Artevelde, a Ghent native, sought to protect Flemish prosperity during the Hundred Years’ War by siding with England.
“Ghent is a pleasant town to ramble through, with its threefold interests of history, architecture, and commerce, and in addition to this, it possesses the advantage of being a town where life and animation abound.”
— from “Belgium and the Belgians” 1903 by Cyril Scudamore
Is your astrological sign Leo, the lion? If it is, or if you travel with some who is a Leo as I do, let me suggest a fun way to recognize the Leo in your life and in the process take some unique and fun photos: pose with architectural and decorative lions.
Because of ‘Vlaenderen die Leu’ (Flanders the Lion), throughout Ghent you will find plenty of lions to pose with. There are indoor and outdoor lions; old and modern ones; large and small lions; some are on doors as knockers, while others are integrated into traffic posts (see photo #5); there’s a lion for every Leo in Ghent.
Beginning with the first count of Flanders the arms used were called Oude Vlaenderen (Old Flanders). During the Holy Crusade of 1177, Philippe d’Alsace, Count of Flanders, valiantly won a banner showing a black lion on a gold field from a Mohammedan monarch in battle against the Sarracens. When he returned home, Philip dropped the Oude Vlaenderen and adopted “Or a lion rampant sable” (gold with a rampant black lion) as his arms. Since that time all counts of Flanders have used those arms.
The motto ‘Vlaenderen die Leu’ (Flanders the Lion) appeared on the arms of Pieter de Coninck at the Battle of the Golden Spurs on 11.July.1302 near Groeningekouter. Three hundred noblemen shouted it when they saw that tide was turning in favor of the Flemish.
The cuberdon battle goes "Nose to Nose" in the heart of Gent! These purple, conned shaped candies (called the Neus of Ghent) have a very aromatic flavor. They make wonderful souvenirs but make sure to keep at room temperature since they'll melt and stick in your pockets. Not sure if this is friendly, retail warfare. After purchasing at one place I noticed the other cart is 1 Euro cheaper- oh well!
The location is a short walk from the NH hotel near the Korenmarkt (right next to the famous mustard store Tierenteyn-Verlent).
This is an Art Nouveau themed CO-ED sauna. It is beautifully crafted out of an old town house. It is a very serene and special place. They are especially good about orienting first-time visitors to the rules of sauna engagement- especially that peace and quiet should be preserved in the actual sauna and bath areas. There is a lovely bar to enjoy a drink before or after the sauna. It's all about heating the body up and letting it cool down. Unlike Sauna Deco in Amsterdam, this is on several levels involving quite a few steps. make sure to climb up to the relaxation room, too.
The Westerbegraafplaats is a beautiful cemetry outside the centre of Gent.
You can reach it by taking tramline 1 and a little walk.
On the cemetry you'll find wargraves from WW I and WW II.
One of my favourite Belgian authors, Cyriel Buysse, is als burried here.
The adress is:
Once the marshaling grounds for troops during WW I, the Leopoldskazerne is the new home of HISK candidates laureates.
Address: Charles de Kerchovelaan 187
Trees, ponds and flowers have replaced the foreboding citadel of Ghent. A site that was once used Wellington, Charles V and as an abbey of St. Bavon is now home to Floraliapaleis (Feestpaleis), an exhibition and trade fair complex. The park also holds the Museum of Fine Arts , completed in 1902.
Every house have the nane from a saint.
For these period (X-Mas) the doors are decored with crown made from pine trees pices.
On one of them (pic) I sew the word Vrede what means Peace in Flamish.
And that is what I whish to every one in the world.
I recommend Brussels for an afternoon or evening visit. The Grand Place of Brussels is spectacular and worth the visit during the day, but especially at night the place is quite magical. One of the prettiest squares in Europe day or night. There is The Belgian Center For Comic Strips, which is quite interesting and the Victor Horta Museum, the father of Art Nouveau that is very beautiful. There are also walking tours of Brussels that highlight Art Nouveau architecture. There are many museums in Brussels that are quite good and worth visiting. Don't miss trying a Belgian Waffle from one of the movable waffle stands. Just incredible!!!!
Behind the Sint-Pietersstation you will find a real gem called the Miljoenenkwartier or the Millionairs District which is the former 'beehive' of the rich and wealthy of the early 20th century. A lot of architects, businessmen and factoryowners built some really extraordinary houses and villas which give a special look and atmosphere to this neighborhood. i recently discovered this area, though Gent was quite familiar to me before. You will see hardly tourists here coz it is not close to the historical heart of the city but its nevertheless easy to visit coz the trainstation is just a little walk away.
This bombarde is made of wrought iron and is as heavy as 12.000 kilos and as long as 5 meter ! Produced in the 15th century, the legend telsus it made one victim during it's first usage : the shooter himself !
Originally it was probably stolen in Oudenaarde around 1578 together with another weapen.
Located at the Groot kanonplein, between the Graslei and the Vrijdagsmarkt.
It always pays to look up, wherever you are. Many architectural details and curiosities are easily missed if you only look at eye-level.
Gent is no exception. You'll see carvings, and little statues, and twiddly decorations all over the place.
Here are some I spotted on my rather brief visit:
Tourist strolling around in Ghent in the neighborhood of the "Castle of Counts" will have, without doubt, seen the old facade of the previous "Fishmine" in Ghent.
The fishmine will be reconstructed and in the meantime Graffiti artist or free to show their talents.
Don’t forget to visit one of beguinages, oases of peace and quiet in the busy heart of the city.
More (general) information on the Flemish Beguinages can be found here.
In Gent you can visit 3 beguinages:
1. Small Beguinage: Lange Violettestraat 209, 9000 Ghent (Unesco WHS)
2. Former St.-Elisabeth Beguinage: Begijnhofdries, 9000 Ghent
3. Large Beguinage: E. Van Arenbergstraat, 9040 Ghent-Sint-Amandsberg (Unesco WHS)