Sights in Ghent, Belgium

By Nancy Norberg
This item appears on page 16 of the September 2013 issue.
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I had read that Ghent, Belgium, is small enough to walk on your own and that its Tourist Information office has a printed walking tour. Tucked back behind a big gate and not well marked, the office was difficult for my husband, Ed, and me to find on a visit in May ’12.

In the city center, the streets to the south of the Korenmarkt (Corn Market) are straight and wide, with elegant mansions of the French-speaking aristocracy. The streets to the north are narrow and winding, with low brick buildings of the Flemish‑speaking working class. The streets come together, more or less, in large squares with all the prominent buildings, and from there they spread out east of the Korenmarkt.

Starting near the Korenmarkt, riverboat tours explore Ghent’s inner waterways, departing from the Korenlei and Graslei quays, two embankments that face each other across the Tusschen Brugghen, once Ghent’s main harbor. We took one of the river tours (6 per person for 40 minutes). The multilingual oral tour gave us a good overview of  Ghent’s history and architecture.

The 300-foot Belfort (Belfry) on the west side of the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) is topped by a comical copper dragon. Inside, there is a small display where you can pick up a guide sheet in English (5 [near $6.50]), the fee including the “lift” that gives an incredible view of the city. Be sure to see the 54-bell carillon. Rarely will you see one this large so close up. 

Across the square from the Belfry is Sint-Baafskathedraal (Bavo’s Cathedral). Although a bit lopsided, the west tower is an imposing beauty, with its long, elegant windows and interesting turrets. 

Inside, the nave is supported by tall, slender columns, giving it a very light, airy feeling, but dead center is a massive “pulpit” of carved marble statuary that certainly is anything but light and airy. Most cathedrals have massive stained-glass windows, so it was refreshing to see pale-pastel glass windows. 

A “must see” is the 12‑panel altar screen “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by Jan van Eyck. An earphone headset with explanation is available for 4.

NANCY NORBERG

Charleston, SC

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I had read that Ghent, Belgium, is small enough to walk on your own and that its Tourist Information office has a printed walking tour. Tucked back behind a big gate and not well marked, the office was difficult for my husband, Ed, and me to find on a visit in May ’12.

In the city center, the streets to the south of the Korenmarkt (Corn Market) are straight and wide, with elegant mansions of the French-speaking aristocracy. The streets to the north are narrow and winding, with low brick buildings of the Flemish‑speaking working class. The streets come together, more or less, in large squares with all the prominent buildings, and from there they spread out east of the Korenmarkt.

Starting near the Korenmarkt, riverboat tours explore Ghent’s inner waterways, departing from the Korenlei and Graslei quays, two embankments that face each other across the Tusschen Brugghen, once Ghent’s main harbor. We took one of the river tours (6 per person for 40 minutes). The multilingual oral tour gave us a good overview of  Ghent’s history and architecture.

The 300-foot Belfort (Belfry) on the west side of the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) is topped by a comical copper dragon. Inside, there is a small display where you can pick up a guide sheet in English (5 [near $6.50]), the fee including the “lift” that gives an incredible view of the city. Be sure to see the 54-bell carillon. Rarely will you see one this large so close up. 

Across the square from the Belfry is Sint-Baafskathedraal (Bavo’s Cathedral). Although a bit lopsided, the west tower is an imposing beauty, with its long, elegant windows and interesting turrets. 

Inside, the nave is supported by tall, slender columns, giving it a very light, airy feeling, but dead center is a massive “pulpit” of carved marble statuary that certainly is anything but light and airy. Most cathedrals have massive stained-glass windows, so it was refreshing to see pale-pastel glass windows. 

A “must see” is the 12‑panel altar screen “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by Jan van Eyck. An earphone headset with explanation is available for 4.

NANCY NORBERG

Charleston, SC