Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) was born here, and Ghent is steeped in history and rich in historical buildings. In the old districts and along the quaysides between the cathedral and the castle of The Counts of Flanders, there reigns a poetic, intimate atmosphere. Walking about, like Bruges, the historical center is strictly forbidden for traffic.
We will start by visiting the St. Baafs Cathedral. The Cathedral stands on the site of the 12C Church of St. John. A few traces of this Romanesque church have survived in the “crypt”, an unforgettable place to discover. The crypt is open to the public, but not inside to avoid large amount of visitors. The cathedral contains many valuable works of art, the world famous. Adoration of the Mystic Lamb Altarpiece is to be admired here.
Ghent’s formidable belfry (298ft), topped with a gilded copper dragon, symbolizes the power of the city’s guilds during the Middle Ages. It was built in the 13C and 14C. From this location, we will be surrounded by the Town Hall (1518), the Charter House, and other magnificent buildings creating a confusion with Gothic and Renaissance style.
From the St. Michael’s Bridge, we have a stunning view on the Graslei, this used to be Ghent’s harbor, the backbone of the city in the Middle Ages. This quay, is lined with 12C to 17C houses, in a very pure architectural style. We will have a rest in the “Patershol”. This is one of the most attractive and picturesque districts of Ghent. It is also one of the oldest.
The Castle of the Counts was built in 1180 by the Count of Flanders, Philip of Alsace, This reminds us that Belgian was always occupied by surrounding countries until its independence in 1830.
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