Ghent was worth an excursion!

April 6th 2019

This year's spring excursion on April 6 took us to Ghent, the old trading and wool city in Belgium, located at the confluence of the rivers Leie and Schelde.

Ghent is now the capital of the Belgian province of East Flanders and was one of the most important cities in Europe in the late Middle Ages. 

To prepare us for our trip, our club member Myriam made a presentation about the city two weeks ago. During the bus ride, Myriam gave us many practical tips for our stay, and we also got a city map for better orientation. After three hours of driving (because of a artificial traffic jam, ordinary 2,5h)we reached our destination, where our two city guides were already waiting for us. We had two tours, one for the German speakers and one for English speaking members and guests. 

On the way through the historic old town, we not only got to see many beautiful buildings and churches but also learned a lot about the city's history, enriched by interesting historical details and many funny anecdotes. The English-speaking tour began at the St. Jacobs Church (Vlasmarkt, Flax Market), and continued to the illustrious Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market), where both formal receptions and parties took place as well as bloody fights and public executions. We continued on to the Werrengarenstraat (Graffiti Street) designated since 1995 as the place where anyone can do graffiti artwork - all that’s asked is that they respect others’ work and clean up after themselves. From there we saw the two-faced town hall which has both Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Right down the street from the town hall was the Belfry (the city watchtower) and the city pavilion, or “sheep pen”, where the residents can use the space for free and was in use by several groups when we were there. 

At this point, there was a lovely aroma which we followed to historic Max’s (put a pin on your map, cause their waffles are not to be missed). The tour continued to the Great Butcher’s Hall, where dried ham was hung from the ceiling rafters, and next to it was the pillory with original stocks still visible. The next stop on the walking tour was the Castle of the Counts, a medieval fortress built by a count to show the wealthy merchants of the city who held the true power. Our two-hour tour ended next to the big cannon (Big Red Devil, or Mad Meg) from 1431, which weighs 12,500 Kg – this cannon never functioned as the balls that were needed to load the cannon were too heavy. We said good-bye to our very interesting tour guide and explored the city on our own for another 5 hours - we shopped, ate great food, and explored the nooks and crannies until 18:00 when our bus was ready to whisk us back to Jülich. All in all, it was an eventful day that brought us to a historically important city in Belgium.

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