City Break : Why Go Ghent?


Ghent Pictures,

The sun wasn't at the rendez-vous. On our arrival in Gent, the sky was grey and menacing but, we were ready to explore a city new to us, in search of the answer to "City Break : Why choose Gent?"
Ghent

Gent is crisscrossed by waterways, therefore one of the best ways to visit the city is to take a boat tour (7 euros for adults or use City card see fact box) the boat doesn't go very far but the guided visit gives a good idea of Gent's past.

We learnt that the older name of Ghent/Gent, Ganda, is derived from the Celtic word for "confluence". Our modern hippy-looking guide was most proud of the rich history of his city. Ghent has a reputation for going its own way – and raising the proverbial finger to any Duke, Emperor or King inclined to meddle in its affairs.


Castle of the Counts - Puzzling Statue at the Exit -

The citizens have a lively history of revolts and rebellions against the invaders through the centuries with a little help from the divine, that includes archangels fighting past and present demons.

Archangel fighting pollution
Archangel fighting pollution
We had just been in Gent for a few hours and already visitors and locals were answering the question "why Ghent?". The French family in the tour-boat was marveling at the fact that the town center was lived in. "Not like Bruges where there are only tourists and touristy spots" Lamented the woman behind me

Gent is a city with innovative architectural style built on history

Volta Ghent Amuse-bouche

Our hotel was a perfect example with its facade dated back from when brewers and other merchants' buildings lined the main waterways but, push the door and the interior was resolutely modern, absolutely nothing remained from the past, 21st century through and through. 

The same went for Volta, fine dining experience set in the shell of an old power station where a diner at the next table told us that "living in Ghent was like living in a big village".


That would be a big village for art lovers. There is so much art to take in, that a couple of days might not be enough and again the spread goes across the centuries.

Street-graffiti artists from various countries whose work can be seen all around town. As street art changes on a daily basis, you'll need to keep abreast of the locations using SORRYNOTSORRY website or download the CIRCA Culture Department app. Circa is responsible for recording graffiti and for the removal of unwanted tags and stickers.


The MSK (Museum of Fine Arts) is a good way to spend an afternoon when the sky is grey. It has an interesting collection of Flemish artists which is striking in itself as the French confiscated many of the city's art. Some are still in le Louvre to this day.

Another of Gent painting which has had a curious history of hide and display is the Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck Brother's dated 1432 now (partly) displayed in St Bravo's Cathedral. The focus of the Triptych is a mystic bleeding lamb which curiously appears to have 4 ears, a result of its hard life ( the painting's life not the mystic lamb's).

Belgium Beer

I have to confess that I got very taken by the story and followed it from its current place of residence in  the Cathedral to the MSK, where restorers can been viewed working on some of the panels in a sound and bullet proof room, via Caermsklooser a medieval friary which holds an exhibition about the story and the restoration

No trip to a Belgium town is complete without a Beer O'clock.

Though I love tucking in national dishes and, what better than a bowl of mussels 'n chips, it's equally nice to experience the food of the main communities so we head to pizza street for a Turkish pizza. However, to be fair there were many Turkish dishes to choose from too.

Turkish pizza

One more reason to visit Gent: it's the Vegetarian Capital of Europe. Gent the birthplace of the "Weekly Veggie Day on Thursday and has the highest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita and it's only 3 hours away from London by Eurostar

Fact Box

CityCard Gent













Getting There
                                                                                   


CityCard Gent is the special all-in access card to the main historical buildings, museums and top attractions in Ghent. You can also use the CityCard Gent on the bus or tram and what’s more, it also includes a boat trip. All you need to do to use this all-in package is pay 30 or 35 euros! This will allow you to explore the city for 48 or 72 hours. You can buy the CityCard Gent in: The Ghent Tourist Office (Sint-Veerleplein 5), all participating museums and attractions, all sales points of public transport company De Lijn, FNAC Ghent (Veldstraat 88) and Uitbureau Gent (Veldstraat 82B)



Eurostar offers fares to Ghent from £34.50 one-way. Standard* Premier fares from London St Pancras International to Bruges start from £92 one-way*.  * Price based on a return journey

Situated just 40 minutes from Brussels, it’s easy to reach the heart of Ghent with one easy connection, passengers will reach Ghent in approximately three hours London St Pancras International.

For more information or to book, visit eurostar.com or call 03432 186 186.

My warm thanks to Visit Gent, Visit Flanders and Eurostar for all their efforts in organising and supporting our visit.

1 comment:

The Globe Trotter said...

'The Vegetarian Capital of Europe' that got me interested. And I would love to see the street art the city has to offer.

si

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