On Sunday afternoon of my time in Gent I met the local VT members irisbe and wandeljp, who showed me some more off the beaten path places of Gent I hadn't seen before.
Among these was the narrow pathway Werregarenstraat, which is also known as Graffiti Street It is one of the very few places in Belgium where graffiti is legal. So the appearance of this colourful street is constantly changing.
The Graffiti Street (Werregarenstraat) is one of the small connecting streets between the streets Hoogpoort and Onderstraat in the heart of Gent's historic city centre.
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De Tap en de Tepel
As my Bed and Breakfast was located in the Prinsenhof area of Gent I came across the former "De Tap en de Tepel" building (Tap and Nipple) quite a few times.
If it was early morning or late evening I almost always noticed a grey long haired man sitting inside at a big wooden table by the fire reading newspapers. As there were no cutains, I could see the interior, which looked quite antique, but somewhat comfortable and authentic.
Later I learned from VT member wandeljp that this used to be an old commercial building, which was turned into a popular pub and bar. It was run by the grey haired man. Unfortunatelythe place closed a couple of years agao, but the man obviously still lived there.
The "De Tap en de Tepel" building can be found in the cobbled street Gewand, in the Prinsenhof district of Gent's historic city centre. The nearest tram stop is Gravensteen, which is served by tram #1.
Address: De Tap en de Tepel, Gewad 7, 9000 Gent
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Arts Centre Vooruit
The Vooruit building was constructed between 1911 and 1914 after designs of Ferdinand Dierkens, who was also responsible for the Ons Huis and Bond Moyson Buildings at Gent's Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market).
The socialist building was used as a cultural meeting place for the working class. Since 1983 the building is a listed monument. Nowadays it is an Arts and Event Centre with a large Art Deco cafe at street level.
The Arts Centre Vooruit can be found in the Kustenkwartier district, which is located just south of the historic city centre.
Address: Arts Centre Vooruit, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, 9000 Gent
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The Citadel Park was designed for the 1913 World Exhibition, which took place in Gent. Its location is on the site of a former large scale-citadel.
In the centre of the park stands the former Royal Casino, which nowadays is integrated in the building complex of the SMAK Museum (City Museum for Contemporary Art).
The park is also home to numerous statues, sculptures and art projects. One of these is the Museum Graveyard (Musea Kerkhof) by Leo Copers. The artist placed the names of famous art museums on gravestones.
The Citadel Park is situated about 1,5 km south of Gent's historic city centre, just east of the Sint-Pieters train station. The nearest tram stop is "Sint-Pieters", where line #1 stops.
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The Book Tower
The 64 metres tall Book Tower (Boekentoren) was completed in 1942 after the modernist designs of the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde.
It belongs to the university library and is said to house approximately 3 million books or in other words 46 km of reading material.
The Book Tower stands more or less on the highest point of Gent in the district of Blandijnberg. It can be found about 1 km south of the historic city centre.
Address: Book Tower, Rozier 9, 9000 Ghent
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Side trip to Brugge
Brugge is the capital of the province West Flanders and can easily be visited on a day trip from Gent. The distance between the two cities is less than 50 km and there is an at least hourly train connection serving this route.
The city centre is dominated by a mix of canals and narrow cobbled streets. Beside many churches and historic buildings, the main sights include the medieval belfry at the market square, the 122,3 metres tall brickwork Church of our Lady as well as the 12th century Basilica of the Holy Blood.
I actually stayed three nights in Brugge, whose old town is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Still I prefered Gent to Brugge, mainly due to the slightly less touristy atmosphere.
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Blue cow in the city
We spotted this beautifully painted cow in the Hoefslaag, a little turning off Langemunt (one of the main shopping streets in Gent). I don't know what she was doing there but she reminded me of the ones that were to be found around London a few years back, decorated by a number of well-known artists and later auctioned for charity, so maybe she's part of a similar project in Belgium. Perhaps someone reading this will know and be able to tell me.
Whatever the reason for her presence we enjoyed the splash of colour and humour she brought to our day.
When exploring in Gent make sure you pause often to look up at the details of the various buildings. The carvings often show the past use of the building in trade or commerce. My first photo shows one of these images on an old building on the Korenlei. The second picture is of a lovely old red brick building nearby, dating back to 1669.
Graffiti or Art ?
An interesting off the beaten path tip here, when I found this little winding alleyway I was a little hesitant about going down it as I was unsure where it led and there was a lot of graffiti around. But I did walk down it and found that the walls were entirely covered in colourful graffiti that would not be out of place in an art gallery.
The alleyway is called Werregarenstraat and runs between Hoogpoort and Onderstraat. If you are in Hoogpoort find the back entrance to the Novotel hotel and the alleyway is directly opposite. In fact my hotel room overlooked the entrance and that is what made me wonder where it led to.
- Arts and Culture
Ghent under spotlight
Hmmm... Here it is: the light show that accompanies Ghent history. :)
In the Kid museum.. sorry, School museum, we went learning about history of the area. For that, we had to go in the attic.
We entered a room, sat down and leant on the fence. We chose French as language. Dutch is available too but English, no sure. Then, the room is plunged in darkness.
The "spotlight show" took place in the "arena" at our feet, a kind of big basin where the Ghent area is represented, with the rivers, the main landmarks. (see the pic). A kind of scale model of the city, in fact.
Then, as far as the tale went by, the concerned areas were spotlit... It was interesting and made it easy to be able to see where the actions, the strikes, the battles took place.. also from where invaders entered the area, which river was of big interest as for trade activities (wool, cotton, cereals)...
Unusual way to learn about Ghent hectic history... Bring the kids there. History lessons would be more interesting.
BTW, the name of the show is "Ghent and he Emperor Charles V" (450 years ago).
Show in Dutch at 11 am and 3 pm, other languages in request.
Click here for the rest of our citywalk.
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- Historical Travel
The students area
To reach the quays, we had to go through the students area. Busy place, a bit offbeat track here. Where still stands the Vooruit, as performance centre.
The Vooruit used to be the socialist HQ in Ghent. It is now turned into a cultural centre that hosts shows, theater plays, exhibitions.
The area is not that often visited though, despite the fact that I was there in July, it still had a certain atmosphere that distinguished it from the other areas in Ghent. Some joints where to hang out with music (live or CD) there and cheaper restaurants...
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- School Holidays
Going exotic I
Visiting the orchard of an abbey...
Dannie and I were surprised seeing there a kiwi plant. While passing by a "resident", I noticed he was showing to visitors some plants. Dannie was busy taking pictures... and me, curious as usual, was listening to some explanation... in Dutch.. Well, I could not really listen since the guy hadn't intended the explanation to me so I fainted examinating the plants in nearby.
Yet, I understood he talked about kiwi. I hadn't seen the fruit to be sure but I heard it was a kiwi plant.
Dannie and I could not really beleive it. We thought kiwi couldn't adapt here. But after the "resident" and his visitors had left, we started browsing around, stirring the big kiwitree leaves and finally spotted some fruits.
Now, you know that kiwitrees can adapt here.:)
More pics of the abbey
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The School museum
The museum was a surprise for both Dannie and me.
Put it this way: when Dannie talked about some School museum, I was thinking of some museum on education on scholar system. I know, I am interested to have an insight on many subjects, then go deeper when the insight incited me to do so... but a School museum? I wanted a light-hearted afternoon that day... Art, chilling out was what I was longing for.. not some debate or exhibition on the evolution of scholar system in Belgium.
Yet, I kept on following, "giving it a try". And the museum turned out to be an amazing one, off beat path. Who would think would be amazed in a Kid museum? Well, it's not really a question since I still use to have fun with kids toys...
I was immediately blown away by some dinosaur skeleton. You can listen to bird noises and to look at fossils.
I guess what is really unusual is the animation to tell you about Ghent history. Very hectic but to be honest, I don't remember of Ghent past that much. Yes, locals were rebellious, yes, the city is old and had been successful... but about the dates, I don't remember.
Yet, for Belgian kids who already had a little grasp on Ghent history, I think it should be nice to "live in situ" the moves... Or for non- Belgians who live in Ghent and who would like to have a quick overview before/ after damping into some history book...
For history, check website below. Choose the language you want (English, French, Dutch, German) plus Japanese, Spanish. Choose the multimedia presentation "Ghent in multimedia", then click on "Cultural" then the pyramids icon for "History".
Then, if you have the chance to visit Ghent, check next tip ....
- Family Travel
- Museum Visits
- Work Abroad
Whenever in Ghent
Whenever in Ghent - take a boat trip on the river "The Leie" during the summer period if you like superb sceneries of landscape and pure nature in east Flanders!!
The tour can start in the old center - will cost you about 30 euros but the memories will be great aswell !
- Sailing and Boating
Who is Ibrahim?
A strange question...
When we were in Citadelpark, we spotted this nice rotonde (?) in the middle of the park. So nice that we were looking to know what it was.
In fact, we found there (in the tubular pilar in the middle) empty bottles of martini and others. Some tools like old shoes, plastic bag. It seems to be an usual spot for regular events (some people use to go there) but we never found anything in there that would clue us on its design.
I just saw as a notice that it is something that is familiar to a certain Ibrahim. But who is Ibrahim?
This is a call to locals, tell me, what it is... I'm dying to know. I like the retro style of the park as well as this pretty "rotonde".
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