Ghent – a bonus G

Korenlei and Graslei
Korenlei and Graslei

One of the reasons I have been so organised about getting my A-Z posts done in advance is that I knew I was going to be on holiday for part of the challenge period. We’ve just come back from a lovely week in Bruges – as B is long past I’ll write that up at my leisure, but we made a day trip to Ghent (or Gent, locally) which makes a perfect bonus post for G.

Ghent is a short (25 minute) train journey from Bruges, although it’s then a bit of a hike to the centre. We started off in the area around Sint Baaf’s Cathedral. The cathedral itself is not very photogenic at the moment because it’s undergoing restoration, although you can’t photograph it’s most famous feature anyway – the beautiful Lamb of God altar piece painted by Jan and Hugo Van Eyck in the fifteenth century. Almost next door are the Belfry, which we climbed even though there was a lift part of the way up (halos shining) and the 13th century Sint Niklaas church. We particularly loved the dragon, which used to adorn the Belfry but is now in the museum, and the quirky façade of the Masons’ Guildhall, opposite Sint Niklaas, which has recently been embellished by devilish-looking weathervanes.

Next stop was the former port area, and the quays of Korenlei (west side) and Graslei (east side), also shown at the top of the post. Most of the buildings have kept their facades, if not necessarily their interiors. The former inn, De Zwaene, is now Marriott’s Corn House restaurant, for example. Take a look also at Graslei’s tiny Tollhouse, which was built in 1698 by filling in a narrow alleyway. It’s believed to be the smallest house in Ghent – I can’t see there being much competition!

From the quays, we meandered further north passing the Great Butchers Hall (Groot Vleeshuis – 1404), Gravensteen, castle of the Counts of Flanders, and Neptune guarding the Fish Market (Vismarkt – 1680). We stopped in at the Folklore Museum, housed in the Alyn Hospice which was originally built to house poor, elderly women in 1363. It represented the price of a pardon in a murderous feud between the wealthy Rijm and Alyn families. Finally, by way of some more picturesque houses such, as 81 Kraanlee, we arrived at Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market), Ghent’s largest square since 1199.

After that, we trekked wearily back to the station to go “home” to Bruges. We agreed that, although Ghent was interesting, Bruges was much prettier and we were glad we had chosen to make it our base.

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10 thoughts on “Ghent – a bonus G

  1. Donna April 12, 2014 / 01:45

    Your pictures are wonderful. I haven’t been to Ghent but I have been to Bruges which was so, so wonderful. It was 20+ years ago but it’s one of those places you never forget. I spent 3 months traveling alone with a Eurorail pass the summer I turned 30. I have absolutely no memory of some of the places I visited but I remember so many details about Bruges.

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    • Anabel Marsh April 12, 2014 / 07:54

      Bruges is unforgettable. Every corner you turn, there is something else to marvel at. Once A-Z is over I will be writing up Bruges.

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  2. Jessica April 9, 2014 / 01:07

    I didn’t get to explore Ghent much when I was there, because I spent the whole day inside the Dr. Guislain Museum (which, incidentally, is amazing, and highly recommended!). It looks like it’s definitely worth a return trip though! I agree with you about that dragon; he looks adorable!

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    • Anabel Marsh April 9, 2014 / 07:47

      We were so lucky with the weather last week that we spent very little time indoors and just enjoyed wandering about. Will need to go back and visit more museums!

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  3. Birgit April 8, 2014 / 19:37

    Oh how lucky you are. Tese times that you can travel-take full advantage as you have been-lovely memories and beautiful things to see. I love your pics and long to hide in one of your suitcases:) Those macabre figures-I wonder if done around the time of the plagues as Europe was really into showcasing death and dance of death and stuff

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    • Anabel Marsh April 8, 2014 / 20:09

      Ha – no room in my suitcase! You’re right about the lovely memories, they are the reason I started this blog to keep track of them all.

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  4. Calli D April 8, 2014 / 17:16

    Belgium is so wonderful, we didn’t make it to Ghent but your pictures look lovely. I hope you overindulged on waffles and fries 🙂

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