Ghent is a rebel.
Ghent is a party.
Ghent is an architectural masterpiece.
Ghent is a true gem in the Flanders region of Belgium. Lonely Planet calls it “the best kept secret of Europe”. That will change, it’s no longer a secret as I hereby offer you the 10 most convincing reasons to visit this beautiful city! Walk with me through the historical city center, not only to watch architectural wonders but also to get a sense of the Belgian way of life.
1. Street view: an architectural feast
Walking through the city of Ghent is like walking through a historical painting, an architectural masterpiece of castles, cathedrals, churches and old merchant houses. Don’t forget to view the houses from above and go up the Belfry (Belfort) tower for an amazing view!
2. Discover why Ghents are called Rope Bearers (and find the hidden clues)
Ghent is a little rebel. People from Ghent are called rope (or: noose) bearers as they seriously rebelled against the regime of the Roman Emperor and Spanish King Charles (Karel) V back in 1539. Charles won and humiliated the people of Ghent by having them parade around town with white undershirts and ropes around their neck. If you stroll the area around Prinsenhof you will find the famous statue remembering this humiliation. There are even restaurants and bars named after this and I am sure you will find more (hidden) references!
Charles V wasn’t exactly the most friendly person for the people of Ghent, as this plaque in the wall near the statue shows: people who were decapitated, burned or even burried alive in those days….
3. Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen)
This medieval castle is situated in the middle of the city! It’s a great place with superb views from the top. Your kids will have a fab time, but be careful when visiting the torture museum inside the castle…it’s not really for people with a weak stomach so to say.
By the way, don’t look strange if you encounter a knight…
4. Klein Begijnhof
Klein Begijnhof (or Small Beguinage) is a beautiful small historical quarter. Walls surround the houses and the church, dampening the sound from the surrounding city. There are multiple quarters throughout the city of Ghent, most of them just outside the historical center. Because of that you will not encounter many tourists…
5. Wonders of Ghent: unique and authentic shops
Around every corner you are going to find an interesting shop. Like The Fallen Angels: for all your old and vintage things. Or the flower shop where you can buy flower ice cream (!). The most interesting one was the old wallpaper shop, with designs from all the past 4 or 5 decades. It seems to be quite a famous shop and at least one-of-a-kind.
That covers part 1 of my story about Ghent, but don’t worry, part 2 is available as well!