Fourteenth International Meiofauna Conference

Ghent (written as "Gent" in Dutch) is a historic city, yet at the same time a contemporary one. Due to this combination, city’s residents, business people, organizations, students and visitors interact harmoniously against a gorgeous historical background. The city is alive and welcomes you.

Facts about Ghent

Ghent is situated in the Flemish region of Belgium. With about 237,250 inhabitants it is the biggest city and the principal town of the East Flanders’ province. The history of Ghent sets off about the year 630, when the monk Amandus, coming to christianize the celts, chose the site (called ‘Ganda’) at the confluence of the rivers the Leie and the Scheldt, to erect an abbey which became the St. Bavo’s Abbey, followed by the construction of the St.-Pieters’ Abbey.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Ghent became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, renown for its cloth; it is also the birth town of the emperor Charles V.
Ghent was an important centre during the religious war and the industrial revolution and became a bastion of socialism.

These 1400 years of history are still tangible: a medieval castle surrounded by a moat, an imposing cathedral, a belfry, three beguinages, imposing mansions, industrial monuments etc. Nowhere else does one find so much history per square metre than in the historical heart of Ghent.

Nowadays mainly the port of Ghent and the university are the economic strengths of the city.

The official language in Ghent is Dutch, but most citizens also speak French, English and/or German.


Architecture and Museums

Much of the city’s medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest car-free area in Belgium. Interesting highlights are the St. Bavo Cathedral with the world famous painting: the Ghent Altarpiece or the ‘Adoration of the mystic lamb’ by the brothers Van Eyck, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour where you can join a sightseeing tour by boat. Ghent established a nice blend between comfort of living and history – it is not a city-museum. The city of Ghent houses also three beguinages and numerous churches, among which the Saint-Jacobs church and the Saint-Nicolas Church are the most beautiful examples.

In the 19th century Ghent's most famous architect, Louis Roelandt, built the university hall Aula, the opera and the main courthouse. There are also theatres and private buildings from diverse periods. The beguinages, as well as the belfry and adjacent cloth hall, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999. One of the highlights of modern architecture is the university library (the Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde.

Important museums in Ghent are the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) with paintings by H. Bosch, J. Fouquet, and many Flemish masters; the Municipal Museum for Contemporary Art (SMAK) , with works of the 20th century, including J. Beuys and Panamarenko; the Design museum and the House of the Alijn family was originally a beguinage and is now a museum for folk art. There is also a museum presenting the industrial strength of Ghent, the Museum for Industrial Archaeology and Textile (MIAT). Here you can find recreations of workshops and stores from the 1800s and can see the spinning and weaving machines that remain in this building which was once a weaving factory.


Restaurants and culinary traditions

As most Belgian cities, Ghent offers a rich variety of local and foreign cuisine. Especially the quarter called "Patershol" has a concentration of diverse restaurants. The "Sleepstraat" houses a number of Turkish restaurants and food bars.

Of all the culinary specialties of the region, the "Ghent waterzooi" is undoubtedly the best known. During the Middle Ages, this soup was prepared with fish from the Leie and the Scheldt, but later the fish was replaced by chicken. These days, however, you simply choose what you prefer.

Here are a few of the many Ghent specialities:

• Ghent waterzooi with chicken
• Ghent waterzooi with freshwater fish
• Ghent hutsepot (meat and vegetable hodge-podge)
• Ghent stoverij (beef stewed in beer)
• Rabbit with prunes
• Eel in green herbs

Festivities in July: “Gentse Feesten”

The Gentse Feesten is a free music and theatre street festival in the city of Ghent. Besides stage events there are random small street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. It starts on the Saturday before July 21 (Belgium's national holiday) and lasts ten days. The last day (always a Monday) is known as "De dag van de lege portemonnees" (The day of the empty wallets) alluding to the fact that many people have spent their last penny at the festival, and is by the people of Ghent seen as their day while the stream of visitors from other places ceases. About 2 million visitors attend the festival every year, making it one of the biggest cultural and popular festivals in Europe.



Search website:
Last update on 05/09/2010 -
Management login
Site map