We had never heard of this town. According to Lonely Planet, “Gent” is the best kept secret of Belgium. I really wish I knew how beautiful this was earlier, so that we could stay in a few more days here. We were fascinated by small European towns after watching ” A Hundred Foot Journey” . Bruges in Belgium was already highlighted in the Bollywood flick “PK”. We just chose to go to Ghent because it was on the way from Brussels to Bruges and we are so glad we did.
We just spent a day in Gent and this blog is all about the immense love that we developed about the town in a day! Gent looks like a page popped out of a 3D fairy tale book.
We took an exit from the station, put our bags in the lockers and took off for one of the most cute city tours. Trams serve almost all important locations in Gent. The cobbled streets decorated by the tram tracks and surrounded by Old European Buildings is a delight to walk on!
Gent has a super power of being a historic yet a contemporary town. It is truly an architectural marvel. With state of the art transport, beautiful cafés and significant historic monuments, Gent gives you the perfect ‘medieval’ European feel.
As we walked along old buildings and medieval houses, we could sense the historic glory of the charming town in all the alleys, lanes and streets. It was easy to navigate around the town by trams but we preferred to walk more though. That way, we could soak in more of Gent in the little amount of time that we had.
A normal day in Gent, as it seemed, people were easing in to their daily routines. No one seemed to be in any kind of rush. The sight was a soothing one. It is hard to find relaxed and satisfied people around in busy populated cities. We saw bicycles of all sorts, single wheeled, double pedalled, bicycles with carriers, bicycles with seats at the sides for babies. We expected to see this in Amsterdam but the whole of Europe is a cyclist’s delight. The best part of Gent was the restful feel of the surroundings. The main square of Gent was alive with live music played by street musicians. Cafés bustling with people, shops opening for their daily business, people cycling around and the trams adding dazzle to the adorable city life of Gent. Oh ! Take me back please !
Once on top the the high soaring, UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gent, ‘The Belfort’, (also called as Belfry) you get a fabulous view of the city. The climb to Belfort is also an interesting one with circular stone steps in one section. After seeing a collection of Carillon and Chime Bells, we climbed further up and saw one of the oldest working DrumBell that regulated the hourly bell chimes. The souvenir music boxes resembles the old drum bells and seeing this huge one actually working was an outstanding experience. The Belfry is the most dignified symbol of the city’s independence.
The 12th Century castle of Gravensteen was another breathtaking sight in Gent. The stone castle looks right out from the sets of Game of Thrones and you can imagine the soldiers peeping out from one of the galleries. Saint Nicholas Church is one of the most prominent and important monument in Gent. Its phenominal structure from front and behind makes it all the more unique.
Canal-side architecture being the highlight of Gent, we couldn’t miss the boat ride around the city. Canals are a wonderful way to see the city from a different angle. Canal boat rides are often stereotyped to just Venice or Amsterdam but eccentric cities like Gent offer better experiences for such rides, not being crowded by too many tourists.
Planning a Europe tour? If you are going to be in the vicinity, and IF you love old towns, history and peaceful walks, put Gent in your list and we bet you wont regret. You can go around the town in a day but if time and money permits, we would definitely recommend staying in at least a night in this pretty marvel.
P.S. We live on a beautiful planet. Please do not litter. Be a responsible traveller.