Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ghent, Belgium [Part I of III]

Ok, so let me get back to blogging about my summer holidays as promised. I love Ghent. I must say it's got one of the prettiest river views I've ever seen. It was simply breathtaking...
The city of Ghent grew around the river Leie flanked by the 'Korenlei' & 'Graslei' (busy port areas during Medieval times) on each side of its banks. Today, the beautiful guildhouses that line the river on both sides are preserved & restored mostly as restaurants and they remain as the glories & charm of the city. Above: The river Leie, with Korenlei on the left and Graslei on the right.

Above: Frontal view of the Guildhouses on Graslei, from Korenlei.

On the Graslei side of the river bank lies the important monuments of the Historic Center of Ghent. Three of most prominent buildings forming the early skyline of Ghent are found near the St. Bavo's Square.

Above: St. Bavo's Square Above: St. Nicholas Church, The Belfry with 44 bells (it's an UNESCO World Heritage Site and it offers a fantastic 360 deg. view of the old town) & The St. Bavo's Cathedral. Above: View from St. Michael's Bridge Another important building is the Town House of Gent. It was originally built in a Gothic style during the 1480's and expanded in size over time, resulting in a new wing being built in Renaissance style from 1518. Above: The Town Hall's Renaissance wing. Above: Friday's Market with the Statue of Jacob van Artevelde, once a leader of Ghent. Apparently this was the way he often stood before his people.. Above: Koren Market Square, a good place to find food.

What's a medieval town without a castle? This one's called The Castle of the Counts built around the 1170's. It was orignally used for military purposes but was later used as a mint,a court of justice, a prison, and even as a cotton plant. Today it houses the Judiciary Museum & Weapon Museum. Above: The Castle of the Counts. Above: A pretty view from one of the arrow slits of the castle. Ok. It's time to move on to something more "this decade". Besides old towns and castles, Ghent also has a very interesting Design Museum on the Korenlei side of the river. Its collection ranges from art noveau to contemporary designs. Here're some of my favourites of the latter. Above: The super cute carousel made out of Alessi household items. Love it. Above: Some of the furniture, jewellery, metalware and other whimsical design pieces. I strongly recommend the Design Museum of Ghent even if you're not an art lover. I'm sure you can find something in there that amuses you and make that 5 euro entrance fee worthwhile.

Moving on, another place I would recommend (especially if you're a girl who has a sweet tooth) is Julie's House.

Above: I soooo wanna own a shop like this!! I'm sure Julie the owner dreamt of this as a little girl and made it come true. Above: Cupcakes & Meringues in more flavours than you can imagine, Cheescakes, Brownies & much more! It's a nice place to hang out with some girlfriends, have tea and gossip for a while, and of course spoil yourself silly with sweet stuff :) If that's toooo sinful for your taste, then check this other one out. Above: A flower shop selling flowers and guess what, flower flavoured ice cream!

Unfortunately it was end of the day when I was there and everything was almost sold out. Anyway I'm not so sure about tasting something which might smell like aromatheraphy oil or shower gel.

Of course, there has got to be something for the boys. Look what I spotted...

Above: The "feestfiets" bar on the move.

The Feestfiets is basically a roof covered Bar / Cafe on wheels which sits up to 20 persons and can be used for all sorts of group outings but I heard guys rent it mostly for bachelor parties. It comes fitted with CD player for music as well as beverage dispenser. I sure hope at least one person remains sober to keep the vehicle on track!

That's all for Ghent! Next up, ANTWERP!

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