Paediatric EMG 2017

Ghent might just be the best European city you’ve never thought of visiting, in a country that continues to be criminally overlooked.

Ghent hides away in the middle of Belgium’s big three – Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp. Most Belgium-bound visitors rushing between these see nothing more than the stately fortifications of Ghent’s St Pieter’s Station. Those who do hop off the train and stroll along the Leie River to the historic centre will have their eyes out on stalks. Here hides one of Europe’s finest panoramas of water, spires and centuries-old grand houses !

Ghent, the capital of East Flanders is one of Belgium's oldest cities. Dotted wit canals, gabled houses and cobblestones, the bustling university town with around 230,000 inhabitants is also one of Belgium's prettiest cities.

Ghent is an unassuming, un-touristy city filled with university students, linger-as-long-as-you-like cafes, well priced restaurants and vibrant energy. It’s a city with great mustard, Stropke beer (which is Flemish for noose), and the ten day Ghent Celebrations held every year in July where the inhabitants go all out with theater performances, concerts, singing, dancing, and drinking.

Under the watchful eye of Gravensteen Castle or Castle of the Counts, the city boasts an Opera House, 18 museums, 100 churches and over 400 historical buildings. The most visited site in Ghent is the famous & beautiful polyptych, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painted by the brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck in 1432

The history of Ghent begins in the year 630, when St Amandus chose the site of the confluence (or ‘Ganda’) of the two rivers, the Lys and the Scheldt, to construct an abbey. Nearly 1400 years of history are still palpable in the city today: a medieval castle surrounded by a moat, an imposing cathedral, a belfry, three beguinages... Nowhere else does one find so much history per square metre than in the historical heart of Ghent!

From the year 1000 to around 1550, Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe. It was bigger than London and second only to Paris in size. The 60,000 inhabitants it had in the 14th century clung forcefully to their rights: earls and princes discovered that the proud and rebellious people of Ghent would not relinquish their hard-won privileges and freedoms without a fight.

Until the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, the city was ruled by a number of rich merchant families. Because they mostly chose the side of the French king against the Count of Flanders, the people gave them the nickname ‘Leliaerts’, derived from the lily on the French coat of arms. As the trades and guilds gained more political power in the 14th century, Ghent came to acquire a more democratic government.

Because England blocked the import of raw materials for the vitally important textile industry, Ghent was forced, by sheer necessity, to take England’s side (1338-1345) during the Hundred Years’ War. Jacob van Artevelde, a rich cloth merchant, led the uprising against Count Louis de Nevers, the vassal of the French king. In 1345, this ‘wise man’ was murdered by his fellow citizens. His importance is shown by the fact that Ghent is still called the ‘City of Artevelde’.

Ghent had to give up its ties with England and embrace the king of France. In 1407 the seat of the Council of Flanders, the highest judicial body in the county, was moved from Bruges to the Castle of the Counts. Dutch became the official language.

Over the centuries the inhabitants of Ghent remained true to their reputation of being headstrong and awkward. They even rebelled against their own child prince, Charles V. But that was a bridge too far: the citizens of Ghent were publicly humiliated and the Klokke Roeland, the symbol of Ghent’s independence, was removed from the Belfry. The economic situation also gradually worsened. The city lost its passage to the sea and the population decreased by half.

Only in the second half of the 18th century was there an economic revival. In 1816, under Dutch administration, Ghent acquired its own university and ten years later the city again became a sea port thanks to the Ghent-Terneuzen canal.

Nevertheless, Ghent still continued to sail against the tide: during Belgium’s independence struggle many inhabitants remained loyal to the Dutch House of Orange. Ghent later became the continent’s first large industrial centre. As a result, it was here that the socialist movement and the first trade union associations appeared.

In 1913, Ghent showed its best side during the World Exhibition. Because it suffered little bomb damage during the two world wars, Ghent’s historical heritage has remained largely intact right up to the present.

As you’ll be able to see with your own eyes…

Find more about Ghent on the website.

How to get there?

By plane:
Ghent is only 45 minutes from the international airport of Zaventem 'Brussel Airport', where flights arrive from and depart to more than 70 destinations. Brussels airport is a major European airport and has plenty of connections. It has direct highway and train access to Ghent.
The airport is connected to the 3 railway stations in Brussels (South or Midi, Central and North Stations) by 3 direct trains per hour. Train tickets can be purchased at the airport (level -2). There are several connections to Ghent. So, if there are no direct trains from the airport to Ghent: first, take a train to Brussels South, Central or North, and change for a train to Ghent.
For further details and timetables, visit (Belgian Railways) and (Brussels airport). 

Brussels South/Charleroi airport is located in the south of Belgium and is 70 minutes from Ghent. There are more than 20 bus connections from the airport to the capital every day. From there frequent train connections to Ghent are available. There are also bus connections from the airport to Charleroi-Sud railway station. Trains for Ghent can also be boarded there. A ticket that combines the bus and train services can be purchased at the Airport Ticket Desk. More information about the bus is available here

By train:
Ghent is easy to reach by train from all Belgian and European cities and is only half an hour from Brussels South Station (by 'IC' Inter City or 'IR' InterRegio train). Here the Eurostar and Thalys high-speed trains can rush you from Paris or London in 1½ hours and from Amsterdam or Cologne in 2½ hours.

At Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station you can browse information at a digital 3D information point. 

Note: In Belgium there is a reduction on train tickets for the elderly (65+). These reductions are valid for travelling after 09.00 am on Monday through Friday, there are no time restrictions for travelling during the weekend.

By car:
Ghent is located on the intersection of two major European motorways: the E17 connects Northern Europe to the South, and the E40 runs from the North Sea right across to Eastern Europe.
From the E17 you take the ‘Gent Centrum’ turnoff. On the E40, from the motorway intersection in Zwijnaarde you first follow ‘Antwerpen’ (E17) and then take the ‘Gent Centrum’ turnoff.