The beautiful city of Ghent is the center of the province of East Flanders in Belgium. Located at the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Lys, Ghent is the third largest city in the country and carries the memory of the medieval Dutch. Not by chance many of them prefer it for their travel holidays and weekends.
In Ghent live about 233 000 people (as of 2006). Often people like to compare Ghent’s beauty with the famous Bruges and Brussels. This wonderful Dutch city is something more than these - Gent has an unchanging medieval charm that is spread among the relaxed atmosphere of urban life.
A huge plus for Ghent is the fact that in its central part is prohibited the movement of any vehicles. A person here can move either on foot or by bicycle. For the convenience of citizens and visitors numerous places that rent bikes are provided. Once satisfied with the cycling tours through the streets of Ghent, you can have a fabulous boat trip on the canals of the city.
Ghent is only 35 minutes by train from the other major Belgian city and center of political life - Brussels. At some stage in the history of Ghent, it was one of the most important cities on the continent. Around the mid-15th century, the village had become the largest manufacturer in Europe of cloth which imported wool from England and provided jobs for thousands of people.
Ghent was an important port too. At the Ghent-Terneuzen canal were loaded boats with famous fabrics to be sent to different parts of Europe.
Today, Ghent is a contemporary university town with many sights from the middle Ages. That progress of the settlement in those distant cities is the reason for today's luster of Ghent. Many of the buildings have retained their ancient authentic brilliance.
Moreover, today Ghent is renowned as one of the world centers of flowers. In the suburbs you can see beautiful plantings of azaleas, tulips and begonias. Every five years in Ghent is held the "Gentse Floraliën", which is a wonderful Flower Festival, attracting thousands of tourists. This festival remains somewhat in the background to the famous Ghent Festival. This celebration of the theatrical and musical art in Ghent is a magnet for about 2 million people worldwide each year.
The medieval heart of Ghent is spread among several large, open squares. They are connected by the spectacular buildings of the impressive Church of St. Nicholas and Cathedral "St.Baaf". Here is the so-called historic center of town where tourists throng in groups.
Cathedral St.Baaf is one of the main historical monuments of Ghent. Inside it you can see a beautiful baroque pulpit. Originally the cathedral functioned as a clock tower. Each of its four corners has a stone soldier. The figures that you see today are not original and are just duplicates.
From the originals has survived only 1, which is kept carefully in the so-called “Room with treasures” in the temple. Known as the secret room in the past it has had the most important documents and valuables of the city and was protected by 2 large gates with 3 locks.
Among other attractions of Ghent, which should not be missed is the Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen). It was built in the 12th century to protect the inhabitants of the city and today is considered one of the best preserved Flemish palaces. In the past, it has worked as both a mint prison and even a cotton plant, it is now open for public visits.
Among the places which are not to be missed in Ghent is a unique street of spices and vegetables (Graslei) with its beautiful craftsman homes. This street runs along the river. You can see the old port of Ghent 's historic bridge Saint Michel.