As soon as you enter the main square of Ghent, you get the feeling of the city. It is surrounded not only by several historical buildings, like the dominant Cathedral and the Bellfry, but in between, there are populated terraces. From here, many small streets lead off in every direction, and you can take almost any to further explore Ghent. A good start is the cathedral of Saint Bavo, previously known as St John. Rising high above the square, this church has many art treasures inside its gothic walls.
Coloured light filters through high, elaborate stained glass windows, and falls on altars, statues, paintings by Rubens and Bosch, and those who pray. In one corner of the cathedral you can find the famous painting, The Mystic Lamb, by Jan and Hubert van Eyck, which is back in Ghent after having been taken to diverse corners of Europe during the last centuries. Leaving the main square of Ghent behind, you can walk in any direction without ever getting lost. You can walk into quiet, narrow alleys, come across small hofjes or courts, or find a unique shop. After a while, you will inevitably end up at one of the canals of the city, leading some to call it Venice of the North - even though there are more places in northern Europe to claim this title.
Strikingly, although Ghent is an old town, you mainly see young people around, which gives Ghent a vibrant atmosphere. For such a small town (the historical centre is easily explored on foot in a couple of hours) Ghent has a lot of different things to offer, not only churches and museums, but also lively squares and canals, and a wide array of restaurants of all kinds and tastes. A veritable little gem easily reached not only from Brussels or Antwerp, but even from neighbouring countries.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ghent (Belgium). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ghent.
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