City of Ghent

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Introducing the city of Ghent

Ghent is one of the Belgiums’ oldest cities located in the Flemish Region of Belgium with a population of 251,133 (1.1.2014).  The city was founded in the 7th century, on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Lys, and called ‘Ganda’. During the Middle Ages, Ghent was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe.

It was once considered the second largest city north of the Alps, after Paris, and larger than London and Cologne. Under the French domination, the city lived stirring times, but in the 19th century, when Ghent came under Dutch rule, the economy flourished again and Ghent developed into a modern city.

Ghent’s city centre is a pedestrian area that is like a museum to early Flemish architecture and a testament to the city’s medieval might. Impressive Gothic sites, such as dramatic St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Castle of the Counts, inspire awe. The works of Flemish masters are housed in the distinguished Museum voor Schone Kunst.

Ghent is without doubt one of the most beautiful historic cities in Europe and was given several pretty names: historic heart of Flanders, a city of all times, medieval Manhattan, Europe’s best kept secret and received some international tourist nominations. In 2008 National Geographic Traveler Magazine ranked Ghent third in its list of 109 most authentic destinations. In the 2011 edition of the Lonely Planet’s ’Best in Travel’ guide, Ghent took the 7th place on the list of must-see cities.

In Ghent culture feasting is a form of culture. One of Ghent’s trump cards are its festivals; festivals that attract people from all over the world, such as the Ghent Festivities, Gent Jazz Festival, Ghent Festival of Flanders and the Ghent Film Festival with the World Soundtrack Awards. Ghent has also important players in the field of theatre including opera and musicals. For more than 200 years, the city has been hosting the Ghent Floralies. This unique five-yearly flower and plant exhibition shows the skills of ornamental gardeners, international florists and landscape gardeners.

With over 60,000 students, Ghent is the largest university town in Belgium. The presence of this young population leaves a dynamic mark on the city and this surely adds to the lively atmosphere that Ghent exudes. The Ghent University has an international reputation and is a preferred university for prominent scientists.

Today, the City Council makes considerable efforts to attract new visitors by developing water tourism which resulted amongst others in the Portus Ganda marina. For children, there are a lot of indoor and outdoor activities such as playgrounds, indoor play area (Pretland Gent), Play Beach, Sports and Recreation parks, skate parks and different events.

The city representatives of Ghent have been actively engaging in activities to make Ghent more children-friendly. Marianne Labre, Programme Director from youth services Ghent said, “that there is a term plan for 2014 – 2019 to build child-friendly Ghent“.

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