Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gent, a quiet city but sassy too



Gent is a derivative of the word "confluence" and indicates the joining of two rivers(Scheldt and Lys). The name of the city is written as Ghent in English and Gand in French. Known for textile industry, Gent reminds a traveler of it's sibling Bruges. It is also marketed as an alternative for Bruges.

The city has a central square surrounded by St Bavo's Cathedral, Civic theater and a Belfry. By now, I'm used to city squares. All European cities have one. The Belfry served as a lookout for attackers in the past and the guards warned the city on the escape routes from the attackers.



There is also an academy of music near the central square and a traveler would hear the practice sessions by the students. But, it is vacation time now. So, the streets were quiet.

Vrijdagmakt or the Friday market is located in another square a few minutes away. The market is open only on Fridays keeping up with catholic customs. This square has an imposing statue of Jacob Van Artevelde with the fingers pointing to Britain. He was responsible for maintaining neutrality of Gent during 100 years war between the British and the French. The wool used by the local textile industries during those times were imported from Britain. So, it was important to keep cordial relations with Britain although the city was ruled by French.

In addition to the statue, the square also hosts the socialist house of the people known as Ons Huis, Bond Moyson. The Art Nouveau window and the horseshoe arch are prominent features of the building.

Once you cross this square, you hit the canal. There is the Castle of Counts along a road running parallel to the canal which serves as a museum now. Very close to this castle, there is a lantern connected to the hospital of Gent which lights up every time a child is born.



There is also the old fish market which is converted into a fine dining fish restaurant. The works are underway to convert this place into a multipurpose shopping mall.

This route also gives you a good sight of the only remaining wooden building of the city. The wood has withstood the sands of time with the care given by the owner and the city.

There are two prominent buildings on this road. One displays the six works of mercy and the other five senses. A little further down the road, another house displays crowned heads (kings).


Alongside the canal, an old institution for war widows and young children is converted museum for folklore now. During the day of my visit, there were people from various age groups exhibiting their knitting skills. This was an interesting sight.


Further along the canal, two streets were joined together by a bridge. From the bridge, the old guild houses along the canal with other buildings ending in a modern bridge with the backdrop of another church, Saint Michael’s church, provided a breathtaking view. This spot also is the most photographed place of the city.

The distant bridge is the vantage point to enjoy the skyline of Gent with a good view of three churches.

A short walk from there took me back to the starting point, the central square.

Tags: Travel,Gent,Bruges

7 comments:

  1. woooaaa.. beautiful city..!!
    I guess you travel a lot.. you are lucky dude :)

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  2. @Madhulika - Yes, it is a beautiful city. No, I don't get to travel as much as I want to. :)

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  3. Very nice account of the place. You took us along with you.

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  4. @Sujatha, @Radha - Thank you

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  5. Nice post. You seem to be having fun travelling around Europe.. want to do that some time.

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  6. @Anand - Thanks. Of late, I got a chance to visit some of the cities.

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