Ghent, Belgium

Gent [Dutch xεnt], French Gand [gã], capital of the province of East Flanders, Belgium, at the confluence of the Scheldt and Leie, (2019) 262 200 residents.

Catholic bishopric; Flemish University (founded in 1817), Ghent College with Art Academy and Conservatory, Royal Academy for Dutch Language and Literature, archive; various museums, especially the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (MSK; Flemish and Dutch painting of the 16th / 17th century, French painting of the 18th / 19th century, contemporary painting), Museum Arnold Vander Haeghen, Design Museum, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Art (SMAK), Kunsthalle Sint-Pietersabdij, Bijloke Museum (city museum, opened in 2010, with a historical museum in the former Cistercian Bijloke abbey from the 14th to 18th centuries).

According to CLOTHESBLISS, the industrial and commercial city, which was originally dominated by the textile industry (cotton, linen), has many new branches of industry, including Steel mill, chemical industry, oil refinery, automotive and mechanical engineering, electrotechnical, paper industry, brewery; Transhipment point for grain. Ghent is one of the most important tourist centers in Belgium. Floriculture is well known in and around Ghent (especially azaleas and begonias).

Ghent is the traffic junction in the waterway network at the end of the 32.6 km long Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, which is navigable for ships up to 125,000 t, and the port of Ghent (total throughput in 2015: 46.5 million t, including 26.3 million t in maritime transport) with the Westerschelde (Netherlands).


On the peninsula between the Scheldt and Leie lies the old town, in which numerous buildings from the city’s heyday are preserved. The Sint-Baafs (Saint-Bavo) cathedral is a three-aisled cross-shaped church with a Romanesque crypt (12th century), high Gothic choir (1290–1353), west tower (1462–1534) in Brabant Gothic style and a late Gothic nave and transept (around 1533 -59); in the church the Ghent Altarpiece by J. van Eyck, furthermore the crucifixion altar of Justus von Gent(after 1464), painting by G. H. van Honthorst, F. Pourbus the Elder, P. P. Rubens and others, high altar (1705-09) with Sint-Baafs – Statue by H. F. Verbruggen, Baroque pulpit (1745).

The Sint-Jacobskerk (begun in the 12th century, completed 13th-15th century) is early Gothic with Romanesque west towers, in the Scheldt Gothic style the Sint-Niklaaskerk (13th century, baroque west portal from 1681), in the flamboyant style the Sint-Michielskerk (1440–1648) with a crucifixion by A. van Dyck (1630). Only parts of the Benedictine abbey of Sint-Baafs have survived, such as the refectory (12th century) and the cloister (1495). The church of the former Sint-Peter Abbey was built between 1629 and 1645. The small beguinage with a baroque church (1639–1730) and buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries is charming. Century.

Among the secular buildings, the town hall (begun in 1482) with its north facade in the flamboyant style (1518–39) is worth mentioning. Opposite the cathedral is the 95 m high belfry (1st half of the 14th century) to which the Cloth Hall (1426–41) is attached. The late Gothic meat hall (expanded in 1406–10, 1900–03) has wall paintings inside. The moated castle ‘s-Gravensteen (especially 1180–1200), a residence of the Counts of Flanders, is an impressive example of a medieval fortification with its square residential tower and the tower-rich walling. In the Kaistraße Graslei, Kraanlei and Kornlei as well as in the Hoogpoortstraat there are still gabled houses from the 16th and 17th centuries; The “Schifferhaus” (1531) is considered to be the most beautiful Gothic guild house. By H. van de Velde is the design for the book tower (completed in 1940).


Ghent was first mentioned in a document as early as the 8th century. Today’s town dates back to a 10th century merchant settlement that was built under the protection of a castle belonging to the Counts of Flanders. As early as the early 12th century, the merchants were able to wrest political rights from the Counts of Flanders. The patriciate that grew out of their ranks determined the political fortunes until the beginning of the 14th century, but then had to involve the guilds that had dominated the economy since the middle of the 13th century, especially the cloth makers, in the city government. Compared to the Counts of Flanders, the city, which gained international renown as a center of cloth production, claimed in part in armed uprisings (J. van Artevelde) their special position. With the rise of the English cloth making industry at the end of the 15th century, Ghent’s hegemony came to an end. Emperor Charles V, born in Ghent in 1500, took away all political privileges from the city in 1540. The Dutch uprising contributed to the final decline of the city. After its reconquest by the Spaniards (1584), Ghent shared the fate of the Spanish Netherlands. In the 19th century a new upswing began with the expansion of cotton and linen processing.

Ghent, Belgium