Ghent or Gent Depends on Where You’re From


The city of Ghent (with a guttural Gh or French version is Gent) is very different from Bruges in some ways and the same in some ways.  Both cities were prosperous in the Middle Ages from trade in textiles and both went into decline though Ghent remained a “living” city while Bruges became a jewel box for tourists.  It might be hard to image but Ghent was at one time the largest city in Europe.  It really is a living city with a university, lots of young people, and seems to have a bit more grittiness than Bruges.

The Korenmarkt, one of several squares in the city each one specialized in a different kind of commerce. Today all home to shops and restaurants.
The Korenmarkt, one of several squares in the city each one specialized in a different kind of commerce. Today all home to shops and restaurants.
The city is at the confluence of two rivers so moving bodies of water with lots of boat traffic (business as well as pleasure).
The city is at the confluence of two rivers so moving bodies of water with lots of boat traffic (business as well as pleasure).
Where the two rivers (the Leie and the Scheldt) meet.  The large buildings you see are government buildings I think.
Where the two rivers (the Leie and the Scheldt) meet. The large buildings you see are government buildings I think.
The Castle of Counts built in 1180 not to protect the people of Ghent but to intimate them as they were fairly independent minded. At the time it was outside the city walls, now it's in the center of the historic district.
The Castle of Counts built in 1180 not to protect the people of Ghent but to intimate them as they were fairly independent minded. At the time it was outside the city walls, now it’s in the center of the historic district.
There are several major churches built during Ghent's most prosperous time. One the Cathedral of St. Bavo will be the subject of the next post as it is home to the most important work of art in Ghent, van Eyck's "Mystic Lamb" altarpiece.
There are several major churches built during Ghent’s most prosperous time. One the Cathedral of St. Bavo will be the subject of the next post as it is home to the most important work of art in Ghent, van Eyck’s “Mystic Lamb” altarpiece.
Another square in the district of the cathedral is a gathering place for visitors and locals alike.
Another square in the district of the cathedral is a gathering place for visitors and locals alike.

 

Th University of Gent is the largest in Belgium and lends a liveliness to the city.  The arts seem to play a prominent role.
Th University of Gent is the largest in Belgium and lends a liveliness to the city. The arts seem to play a prominent role.
This shelter or band shell in the midst of the churches is an interesting construction and has incredible acoustics.  As we wandered by there was a great quartet playing.
This shelter or band shell in the midst of the churches is an interesting construction and has incredible acoustics. As we wandered by there was a great quartet playing.
The quartet
The quartet
As they played a whole other group of musicians showed up to play after them.
As they played a whole other group of musicians showed up to play after them.

 

One of these buildings had the date of 1669 on the facade.
One of these buildings had the date of 1669 on the facade. They are at the entrance to the Patershol neighborhood that used to be pretty down and out and now boasts lots of interesting shops and restaurants.
A typical restaurant establishment in Parashol.
A typical restaurant establishment in Patershol. Hanging down is an old menu in Flemish and French showing us the division in this country between the Flemish speaking north and the French speaking south. The prices are in francs. At either end of the neon are portraits of the king and queen.
Next blog post will include works from the Fine Arts Museum and you'll see some paintings of Ghent that look as if they are still the same.
Next blog post will include works from the Fine Arts Museum and you’ll see some paintings of Ghent that look as if they are still the same.

 

 

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