1. A historical city
Seeing Ghent means going back more than a thousand years. Since prehistoric times, the confluence of the Leie and Schelde has been a place for people to live and work. Its location adjoining both of these water courses has remained one of the key characteristics of the East Flemish capital, to the extent that it takes its name from it: Ghent is derived from the Celtic word “ganda”, which means “confluence”. From the abbeys of St Pieters and St Bavo on the banks of the Schelde to the guild houses on the Graslei and Korenlei, right by the water, fine monuments tell the grand story of this medieval metropolis.
2. A convivial and authentic city
During its long history, Ghent has always continued to grow organically. The heritage of many centuries of human activity has been a unique collection of streets, buildings and views. The diversity is enormous: from the narrow, labyrinth-like lanes of the Patershol to the Rococo palaces around the Kouter and the 19th-century grandeur of Vlaanderenstraat. The streets of Ghent make fascinating reading. Around every corner, a new discovery or a well-preserved memory awaits you.
3. A dynamic city
Although Ghent city centre is clearly a historical place, it also has a palpable modern feel to it. Ghent is a place of constant innovation, investment and work in order to increase the quality of life and attractiveness for which the city is famous. Apart from its fascinating history, Ghent also has a very definite presence and a very visible future. The university and colleges contribute to a constant influx of talented people with an open and creative attitude. During the day, the many shops, boutiques and cafés along the pedestrianized streets and squares of the city are bustling. In the evening, the magically illuminated streets are a feast for the eyes as you stroll between the cinemas, theatres or new restaurants that have just opened their doors.
4. An entrepreneurial city
Ghent is a city in which creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are constantly mixing. While there is sure to be a new, trendy pop-up concept somewhere each week, the various spin-offs of the university devote their time to the technology of the future. Although Ghent continues to build on a centuries-old heritage, the city is always looking to the future. Did you know that Ghent has had one of Europe’s largest pedestrianized city centres for the past ten years and more? Or that it was the first Belgian city with an adapted lighting plan? The city is never short of ambitious plans. Thus it aims at being climate-neutral by 2050 and a library fit for the future is currently being constructed on the Waalse Krook, at the same time upgrading a beautiful stretch of waterfront by adding a park and a new promenade.
5. A city that knows how to enjoy itself
Although Ghent is a city that never stands still, it is equally easy to enjoy the peaceful life. Just imagine spending a quiet Sunday morning in the sun on a convivial terrace after visiting the weekly flower market on the Kouter, enjoying a good book while sipping a delicious cup of coffee. On the way home you pass the many shop windows full of antiques or vintage items in the streets around Sint Jacobs, where a flea market full of curiosities and bric-a-brac has been set up. You jump on your bicycle for a little ride along the waterfront, taking you to the Museum of Contemporary Art (SMAK) or the City Museum (STAM) for a bit of culture. Then you meet friends for a drink on a terrace somewhere along the waterfront, followed by a culinary experience in Patershol. You then take a short stroll to reach your home, where you shut the door and enjoy a view of the skyline of this medieval Manhattan from your roof terrace over a last glass of wine, or choose to enjoy the cosy atmosphere of your city garden