Ghent is the capital of the Flemish province of Oost-Vlaanderen in Belgium. The city has an old history. From about 1000 AD it was for centuries the largest city in the Low Countries, even bigger than London. Although old houses have been broken down and canals filled up for the sake of traffic, the city still has a great deal of beauty to offer. Examples are the old merchant houses on the Graslei, the Belfort, the medieval Lakenhalle and the St Baaf cathedral.
Ghent has lost a lot of its inhabitants since 1977, At the time, the city had almost 250,000 inhabitants, but about 10% of them moved to the more attractive nearby municipalities. The city council has successfully started renovation of the city, and in part due to immigration, the number of inhabitants is again increasing. At the moment, Ghent has 230,000 inhabitants.
The city is located in the west of Belgium, where two rivers meet: the Schelde and the Leie. In the past, Ghent was connected to the open sea by the Westerschelde. However, due to sedimentation that connection was lost, but thanks to the Canal from Ghent to Terneuzen small ships are still able to reach Ghent.
Ghent was one of the first industrialised cities on the mainland of Europe. Especially the textile industry played an important role. Now it is
especially the harbour that makes an important contribution to the economy of Ghent. It is the third largest port of Belgium (after Antwerp and Zeebruges). In the port area, car companies
(Volvo, Honda) are strongly represented.
In addition, Ghent is the most important educational centre of Belgium, with a distinguished university and various polytechnics. One in five of the city's inhabitants are students. Tourism has been increasingly important. Together with the large number of students, this means that many people work in bars and restaurants, etc.
Flower cultivation is thriving in the area surrounding the city. That is why every year a major flower fair is organised in Ghent, the Floralia.
Ghent is located at 45 car minutes from Belgium's national airport near Brussels (Zaventem). There is a direct train connection to this airport. The airport of Ostendis especially important to freight transport, although it also has some connections to tourist destinations in Southern Europe.
The Belgian local transport company De Lijn provides an extensive network of tram and bus connections in Ghent. One of the three lines (line 3) is carried out by trolleybus.
On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (from May to October) there is a free so-called electro-boat between the Korenlei in the centre and the Zuid (next to the city library). During the weekend there are free night buses (between 11.30 pm and 2.30 am) from the Hoernmarkt in the centre to all the suburbs of Ghent.
Ghent has five train stations: Gent-Sint-Pieters, Gent-Dampoort, Drongen, Gentbruges and Merelbeke. Gent-Sint-Pieters is the most important station, immediately to the south of the city centre. There are connections to all cities in Belgium and there is a high-speed connection to Paris.
The city centre is completely car free. Around the centre, there are several parking facilities. You are led there via a dynamic information
system, which indicates where there are spaces available. Long-term parking in the streets is discouraged and it is more expensive than parking your
car in one of the car parks. You can also park for free on two P+R areas on the edge of the city: Gentbrugge and Oostakker. They are both connection to
public transport. Work is underway to expand these P+R facilities.
Cars that are park in the wrong place are towed away. In addition, to the fine it means that you will also have to pay the towing costs.
There are over 30 hotels in Ghent, including three 4 star hotels. In addition, there are various Bed & Breakfast accommodations and apartments. General speaking, it is not necessary to book in advance, except during events (the Gentse Feesten in July, the Floriade) or if you have a particular hotel in mind.
For more information about Ghent, we recommend Google, and the following sources: