Wenn man früh in Münster losfährt, über Aachen, Köln, Liège-Guillemins und Bruxelles, dann kommt man in ca. 5,5 Stunden in Ghent, Belgien, an. Und dort hat man dann eine Menge zu sehen und kennenzulernen… Ein interessantes, historisches Bauwerk nach dem anderen, pittoreske Plätze, Brücken, Ausstellungen… und die wohl gastfreundlichsten Flamen, denen ich je begegnet bin: Sylvia und Michiel.

As this is in fact another towerkeeper‘s travel-story, and it is going to be very international, I continue in English.

My travel-and-life-companion and I chose a fast train and waved our little cat good-bye for a short while – she was cared for by a friend who is specialized in sitting cats, talking to them, and even writing their stories.
So – off we went, stopped at the station Liège-Guillemins, designed by the famous Santiago Calatrava, and then: Ghent. Stunningly beautiful, picturesque, historic, just wow.

Why go to Ghent? Because! And why were WE there? Because we had been invited by Sylvia Van Peteghem, Chief Librarian of the University library, and her husband Michiel Hendryckx, photographer and author for De Standaard (both with other positions and projects, too, of course).

I really don‘t know where to start, everything was so amazing, this adventure will echo in my mind for very long time, that‘s for sure.

Michiel Hendryckx did a story (with a very cool composed photo, by the way!) on the towerkeeper of Muenster, and on that occasion he an his wife Sylvia invited me to visit their city, Ghent. And because life can be short and you should always jump at great opportunities, in an impromptu decision, I fixed a date.

There are many stories to be told, but I keep it short on this blog and add only so few photos that it suffices to get you the image:

GHENT! Dutch: GENT. French: GAND.
A city in the Flemish region of Belgium, the capital city of the East Flanders province, on the rivers Scheldt and Leie, and in the late Middle Ages even more important than Brussels or Paris!
About 260 thousand inhabitants. Car-free inner city. Loads of medieval architecture. My colleagues at Ghent Tourist Information speak a bunch of languages, one of them told me (in German) that he lived a few years in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Tourist information Ghent touch screens
very modern: The Tourist Information in Ghent with touch screens

There are buses and trams – you know that we had a tramway network in Muenster, too? A lot of people think it‘s really too bad that it only lasted from 1901 until 1954…

The tram in Ghent
The tram leading towards St. Bavo Church…

My 5 favourite places in Ghent during our visit

  • 1. The Belfort
    -91m tall (tallest in Belgium!)
    -one of three medieval towers (construction since 1313!)
    -UNESCO world heritage
    -bell tower announcing the time and watchtower
    -a guilded dragon on top (the dragon is the mascot to Ghent!)
    -the top level has been rebuilt several times (for the growing number of bells!)
    -alarm bell „Roland“ from 1325 (the cousin of „my“ Rats- und Brandglocke on St. Lamberti church!)
    -carillion by Pieter and François Hemony in the 17th century
  • 2. The Gravensteen (click here for the website)
    -castle of the counts of Flanders (origin of the current castle: 1180!)
    -restored in a romanticising Gothic style (1893-1907) inspired by Philip of Alsace
    -court, prison, mint, cotton factory – now a museum and major landmark
    -audio guide tour in different languages (spoken by Wouter Deprez, Flander‘s famous comedian!)
  • 3. Sint-Niklaaskerk (St. Nicholas Church, click here for the website)
    -one of the oldest churches and important landmark (begun in the early 13th century!)
    -in the old trade center of Ghent; tower partly funded by the merchants (like St. Lamberti, Münster!)
    -famous romantic organ by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll
    -little shops and houses built alongside to hide de cracks in the walls
    -second hand books, comics, antique postcards (which I collect!) and posters for sale (organised by the Friends of St. Nicholas Church on two days a month)
  • 4. City Pavilion (Market hall) and Belfort Stadscafé (click here for the Belfort Foodbar Website)
    -the Stadscafé offers a delicious chocolademousse (besides many other wonderful dishes, of course)
    -the café is situated besides a small park on the lower level beneath the open pavilion
    -the pavilion is a multifunctional architectural masterpiece
    -ensemble of glass, wood and concrete is perfectly made for markets, concerts, art and performances
  • 5. Book Tower (University library)
    -this place will surely be my number ONE next time. Why not now? Because unfortunately we were not able to visit the tower due to restoration works … and NEEEEED to come back in about 2 years to climb up to the dog who watches over the city (bronce sculpture)!
    -holds the library of the university of Ghent
    -architectural masterpiece of Henry Van de Velde (devised in 1933)
    -beacon of science and knowledge
    -BUT: we had a very interesting tour through the building besides the book tower, thanks again to Sylvia!!! We are still deeply impressed by the history and plans and all the interior of your work area and surroundings…!
    -visit the website of Gent University library and see the Google Books Project (click here) – my inside tip of the digitized books: search for “Liber Floridus“ – just stunning…!

Just like at home in Muenster we had sunshine and we had rain, and we especially like the towers and old buildings in Ghent and think that everybody who knows Muenster should also visit Ghent! Let‘s discuss history, art, food and culture –
which place do you like best? Have you been to the Book Tower before the renovation? Did you try waterzooie (a Belgian specialty)? Let me know via comment, or on my facebook page (which you can find by searching Türmerin von Münster on the net – I don‘t want to include the direct link here due to data privacy reasons), or by mailing me (see contact). I am looking forward to traveling again to Belgium!

On St. Michiel‘s Bridge
On a rainy day
Under my umbrella…
Buildings alongside the river
The clock tower of the Post office in the back!
Bike parking FREE
free parking for bikes! We need that in Muenster, too 😉
St Pieter‘s station
The train station St. Pieters – picturesque!