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A Day in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium, is rich in history and rich in hidden gems.

The vibrant city of Ghent is more than worth a weekend trip. Ghent offers a quirky, fascinating cultural cocktail brimming with rich history, culture, and a trendy city vibe. Ghent is a chilled-out city where anything goes: a city break on a human scale. Take a look at all the sights in the vibrant city of Ghent. There are so many must-see attractions to visit on your holiday.

The Ghent Belfry

Look up at the magical city skyline momentarily during your weekend trip in Ghent: you can’t miss it. The Belfry is the middle tower between St Bavo’s Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church in the famous row of three. A fiery dragon, Ghent’s proud symbol and mascot, guards the city’s, historic heart.

Ghent’s guardian angel and treasure keeper

The Ghent Belfry, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage, is well worth a visit. In 1402, it was the place where city privileges were kept: in a chest, locked up in the Belfry safe. The dragon, which has been up on the tower since 1377, kept an eye on the city and was the symbolic guardian of the belfry. The Belfry also proudly carried the alarm bell, the ‘Great Triumphant’. Today you will find this bell, nicknamed ‘Roland’ by the people of Ghent, not far from the Belfort on Emile Braunplein

Until 1442, St Nicholas’ Church was the main watchtower. In 1442, the watchmen in the tower moved across to the newly completed Belfry. Along with the bell ringers, these watchmen, or the corps of ‘men who guard the city’, served until 1869. The fire was a particular danger in Ghent.

The Belfry tower is an absolute must-see! Climb the stairs, listen to the chiming sound of the carillon, and enjoy the view of the vibrant city of Ghent. There is a lift from the first floor. The stunning view over Ghent is bound to enchant you. However, the Belfry is not accessible to visitors with reduced mobility.

View from Belfry Tower
View from Belfry Tower

A history of rebellion: from church to cathedral

Looking for a weekend getaway that is just that little bit different? Do you like to explore off the beaten track? Welcome to Ghent, the city of rebels! St Bavo’s Cathedral literally carries Ghent’s rebellious history in its very stones. The Romanesque style can still be seen in the crypt in the central nave. In the 15th century, it was decided that the Romanesque structure would be replaced with a larger Gothic church completed in 1559. In 1540, the church became the seat of the Chapter of St. Bavo, and St. Bavo became the church’s patron saint. Later, in 1559, the church was converted into the cathedral of the Bishops of Ghent.

Saint Bravos Cathedral
Saint Bravos Cathedral

Must-Have Chocolate

Before a Belgian chocolatier can be called a chocolatier, they must study for 2 years. Belgium houses the most chocolate in the world. You can not walk three-feet without seeing a chocolate shop. The smells emanate into the streets and call you into the shops. Every piece looks like a work of art. They combine flavors to create little masterpieces for your mouth. A special place is Chocolaterie-Vandenbouhede. When you enter it’s like walking into a museum. Thousands of chocolates all lined up just waiting for you.

Belgium Chocolate
Belgium Chocolate in Ghent

Canals of Ghent, Belgium

The canals hold treasure up and down the banks. There are water boat tours you can hop on and hop off like the buses on land. Water is not just endlessly calming; it allows you to see things from another angle. Short explorations or a full day’s sailing: everything is possible on the more than 100km of navigable waterways. Eat on board or in one of the numerous atmospheric restaurants along the bank; the possibilities are endless.

Canal boats
Canal Boat Rides

Belgian fries, not French

Don’t be fooled by the name ‘French’ fries; the origins of this ubiquitous dish can be traced back to Belgium. The misnomer stems from a geographical error during World War I, when American soldiers stationed in Belgium believed they were in France (because part of Belgium speaks French). When introduced to the delicacy, the soldiers nicknamed these fried potatoes ‘French fries’. Belgians fine array of frituurs have been trying to reclaim their legacy ever since.

The quality of Belgian frites is essential, and the final result depends upon the temperature before cooking. The fries cannot be frozen or too soft before frying, as they need the perfect balance to ensure that, once fried, they are crispy and delicious. The perfect Belgian frites are also no more than one centimeter (0.4 inches) thick, and the procedure involves frying the potatoes twice. In fact, they are even prepared in a special oil made from a mix of horse and cow fat. Don’t miss a chance for these world-famous fries.

Every city has special foods they prepare. Read about other cities and their incredible food offerings.

Ghent Places to Stay

There are many places to enjoy your time in Ghent, but staying at the Hampton Boutique BnB is a true delight. Greeted by the owner and invited into this quaint BnB. You first see a beautiful bar where you can spend a couple of hours relaxing and enjoying the view. Next, you are checked in and taken to your room. Each room is a little different than the others, and the roof lines make for a unique room design. Breakfast is a delight for the senses. Fresh meats and cheeses, local honey, and artisan bread are set out for you. Then eggs are made to order with bacon if you choose. Fresh yogurt and fruits await you at your place of service. Fresh juice waits for you as well. It is a perfect way to start your day.

Hampton Boutique BnB
Hampton Boutique BnB

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