Ghent (/ɡɛnt/; Dutch: Gent pronounced [ɣɛnt] ( listen);
French: Gand pronounced [ɡɑ̃] ( listen); German:
Gent pronounced [ˈɡɛnt] ( listen)) is a city and a
municipality in the
Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and
largest city of the
East Flanders province and after
largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at
the confluence of the Rivers
Leie and in the Late Middle
Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe,
with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.
The municipality comprises the city of
Ghent proper and the
surrounding towns of Afsnee, Desteldonk, Drongen, Gentbrugge,
Ledeberg, Mariakerke, Mendonk, Oostakker, Sint-Amandsberg,
Wondelgem and Zwijnaarde. With
260,467 inhabitants in the beginning of 2018,
Ghent is Belgium's
second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. The metropolitan
area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of
1,205 km2 (465 sq mi) and has a total population of
594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most
populous in Belgium. The current mayor of Ghent, Daniël
Termont, leads a coalition of the Socialistische Partij Anders, Groen
and Open VLD.
Ghent Festival (
Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held
every year and attended by about 1–1.5 million visitors.
1.1 Middle Ages
1.2 Early modern period
1.3 19th century
1.4 20th century
2.1 Neighbouring municipalities
3.3 Restaurants and culinary traditions
5.3 Public transport
7 Famous people
8 International relations
8.1 Twin towns – sister cities
9 See also
12 External links
See also: Timeline of Ghent
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2013) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
Ghent in 1775
Archaeological evidence shows human presence in the region of the
Leie going back as far as the
Stone Age and
the Iron Age.
Most historians believe that the older name for Ghent, 'Ganda', is
derived from the Celtic word ganda which means confluence. Other
sources connect its name with an obscure deity named Gontia.
There are no written records of the Roman period, but archaeological
research confirms that the region of
Ghent was further inhabited.
Franks invaded the Roman territories from the end of the 4th
century and well into the 5th century, they brought their language
with them and Celtic and Latin were replaced by Old Dutch.
Saint Amand founded two abbeys in Ghent: St. Peter's
(Blandinium) and Saint Bavo's Abbey. The city grew from several
nuclei, the abbeys and a commercial centre. Around 800, Louis the
Pious, son of Charlemagne, appointed Einhard, the biographer of
Charlemagne, as abbot of both abbeys. In 851 and 879, the city was
however attacked and plundered twice by the Vikings.
Within the protection of the County of Flanders, the city recovered
and flourished from the 11th century, growing to become a small
city-state. By the 13th century,
Ghent was the biggest city in Europe
north of the Alps after Paris; it was bigger than
Moscow. Within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people. The belfry
and the towers of the
Saint Bavo Cathedral
Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas' Church
are just a few examples of the skyline of the period.
The rivers flowed in an area where much land was periodically flooded.
These rich grass 'meersen' ("water-meadows": a word related to the
English 'marsh') were ideally suited for herding sheep, the wool of
which was used for making cloth. During the
Ghent was the
leading city for cloth.
The wool industry, originally established at Bruges, created the first
European industrialized zone in
Ghent in the High Middle Ages. The
mercantile zone was so highly developed that wool had to be imported
Scotland and England. This was one of the reasons for Flanders'
good relationship with
Scotland and England.
Ghent was the birthplace
of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Trade with
England (but not
Scotland) suffered significantly during the Hundred Years' War.
Early modern period
The city recovered in the 15th century, when
Flanders was united with
neighbouring provinces under the Dukes of Burgundy. High taxes led to
a rebellion and eventually the
Battle of Gavere
Battle of Gavere in 1453, in which
Ghent suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of Philip the Good.
Around this time the centre of political and social importance in the
Low Countries started to shift from
Flanders (Bruges–Ghent) to
Brabant (Antwerp–Brussels), although
Ghent continued to play an
important role. With Bruges, the city led two revolts against
Maximilian of Austria, the first monarch of the
House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg to
Buildings along the
Leie river in the city of Ghent
The Justitiepaleis in Ghent, c. 1895
Juana of Castile
Juana of Castile gave birth to Charles V, who became Holy
Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Although native to Ghent, he punished
the city after the 1539 Revolt of
Ghent and obliged the city's nobles
to walk in front of the Emperor barefoot with a noose (Dutch: "strop")
around the neck; since this incident, the people of
Ghent have been
called "Stroppendragers" (noose bearers).
Abbey (not to be
confused with the nearby
Saint Bavo Cathedral) was abolished, torn
down, and replaced with a fortress for Royal Spanish troops. Only a
small portion of the abbey was spared demolition.
The late 16th and the 17th centuries brought devastation because of
the Eighty Years' War. The war ended the role of
Ghent as a centre of
international importance. In 1745, the city was captured by French
forces during the
War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession before being returned
to the Empire of
Austria under the
House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg following the
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when this part of
known as the
Austrian Netherlands until 1815, the exile of the French
Emperor Napoleon I, the end of the French Revolutionary and later
Napoleonic Wars and the peace treaties arrived at by the Congress of
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the textile industry flourished again
in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens, having smuggled the industrial and factory
machine plans out of England, introduced the first mechanical weaving
machine on the
European continent in 1800.
The Treaty of Ghent, negotiated here and adopted on Christmas Eve
1814, formally ended the
War of 1812
War of 1812 between
Great Britain and the
United States (the North American phase of the Napoleonic Wars). After
the Battle of Waterloo,
Ghent and Flanders, previously ruled from the
House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg in
Vienna as the Austrian Netherlands, became a part
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands with the northern Dutch for
15 years. In this period,
Ghent established its own university
(1816) and a new connection to the sea (1824–27).
After the Belgian Revolution, with the loss of port access to the sea
for more than a decade, the local economy collapsed and the first
Belgian trade union originated in Ghent. In 1913 there was a world
exhibition in Ghent. As a preparation for these festivities, the
Sint-Pieters railway station
Sint-Pieters railway station was completed in 1912.
Ghent was occupied by the Germans in both World Wars but escaped
severe destruction. The life of the people and the German invaders in
World War I
World War I is described by H. Wandt in "etappenleven te
Gent". In
World War II
World War II the city was liberated by the
British 7th "Desert Rats" Armoured Division and local Belgian fighters
on 6 September 1944.
After the fusions of municipalities in 1965 and 1977, the city is made
The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows,
and there is adequate rainfall year-round. According to the Köppen
Climate Classification system,
Ghent has a marine west coast climate,
abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.
Climate data for Ghent, Belgium
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation days
Source: Weatherbase 
Graslei is one of the most scenic places in Ghent's old city
Historical centre of
Ghent – from left to right: Old post office,
Saint-Nicholas Church, Belfry, and
Saint Bavo Cathedral.
Ghent at Night
Riverside in Ghent
Sunset over the river
Leie in Ghent
Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is
remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest
carfree area in Belgium. Highlights are the
Saint Bavo Cathedral
Saint Bavo Cathedral with
Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the
splendid architecture along the old
established a blend between comfort of living and history; it is not a
city-museum. The city of
Ghent also houses three béguinages and
numerous churches including Saint-Jacob's church, Saint-Nicolas'
church, Saint Michael's church and St. Stefanus.
In the 19th century Ghent's most famous architect, Louis Roelandt,
built the university hall Aula, the opera house and the main
courthouse. Highlights of modern architecture are the university
Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde. There
are also a few theatres from diverse periods.
The beguinages, as well as the belfry and adjacent cloth hall, were
World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999.
The Zebrastraat, a social experiment in which an entirely renovated
site unites living, economy and culture, can also be found in Ghent.
Campo Santo is a famous Catholic burial site of the nobility and
Important museums in
Ghent are the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum
of Fine Arts), with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens,
and many Flemish masters; the SMAK or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele
Kunst (City Museum for Contemporary Art), with works of the 20th
Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol; and the Design Museum
Gent with masterpieces of
Victor Horta and Le Corbusier. The Huis van
Alijn (House of the Alijn family) was originally a beguinage and is
now a museum for folk art where theatre and puppet shows for children
are presented. The Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel or
MIAT displays the industrial strength of
Ghent with recreations of
workshops and stores from the 1800s and original spinning and weaving
machines that remain from the time when the building was a weaving
Ghent City Museum
Ghent City Museum (Stadsmuseum, abbreviated STAM), is
committed to recording and explaining the city's past and its
inhabitants, and to preserving the present for future generations.
Restaurants and culinary traditions
Ghent and other regions of East-Flanders, bakeries sell a
donut-shaped bun called a "mastel" (plural "mastellen"), which is
basically a bagel. "Mastellen" are also called "
Saint Hubert bread",
because on the Saint's feast day, which is 3 November, the bakers
bring their batches to the early Mass to be blessed. Traditionally, it
was thought that blessed mastellen immunized against rabies.
Other local delicacies are the praline chocolates from local producers
such as Leonidas, the cuberdons or 'neuzekes' ('noses'), cone-shaped
purple jelly-filled candies, 'babelutten' ('babblers'), hard
butterscotch-like candy, and of course, on the more fiery side, the
famous 'Tierenteyn', a hot but refined mustard that has some affinity
to French 'Dijon' mustard.
Stoverij is a classic Flemish meat stew, preferably made with a
generous addition of brown 'Trappist' (strong abbey beer) and served
with French fries. 'Waterzooi' is a local stew originally made from
freshwater fish caught in the rivers and creeks of Ghent, but nowadays
often made with chicken instead of fish. It is usually served
nouvelle-cuisine-style, and will be supplemented by a large pot on the
The city promotes a meat-free day on Thursdays called Donderdag
Veggiedag with vegetarian food being promoted in public
canteens for civil servants and elected councillors, in all city
funded schools, and promotion of vegetarian eating options in town
(through the distribution of "veggie street maps"). This campaign is
linked to the recognition of the detrimental environmental effects of
meat production, which the United Nations' Food and Agriculture
Organization has established to represent nearly one-fifth of global
greenhouse gas emissions.
Ghent has the world's largest number of vegetarian restaurants per
The city is host to some big cultural events such as the Gentse
I Love Techno
I Love Techno in
Flanders Expo, the "10 Days Off" musical
festival, the International Film Festival of
Ghent (with the World
Soundtrack Awards) and the Gent Festival van Vlaanderen (nl).
Also, every five years, an extensive botanical exhibition (Gentse
Floraliën) takes place in
Flanders Expo in Ghent, attracting numerous
visitors to the city.
The Festival of
Flanders had its 50th celebration in 2008. In
opens with the OdeGand City festivities that takes place on the second
Saturday of September. Some 50 concerts take place in diverse
locations throughout the medieval inner city and some 250
international artists perform. Other major Flemish cities hold similar
events, all of which form part of the Festival of
with Laus Polyphoniae;
Bruges with MAfestival;
KlaraFestival; Limburg with Basilica, Mechelen and Brabant with
Novecento and Transit).
The numerous parks in the city can also be considered tourist
attractions. Most notably,
Ghent boasts a nature reserve
(Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, 230 hectare) and a recreation park
(Blaarmeersen, 87 hectares).
The port of Ghent, in the north of the city, is the third largest port
of Belgium. It is accessed by the Ghent-
Terneuzen Canal, which ends
near the Dutch port of
Terneuzen on the Western Scheldt. The port
houses, among others, large companies like ArcelorMittal, Volvo Cars,
Volvo Trucks, Volvo Parts, Honda, and Stora Enso.
Ghent University and a number of research oriented companies, such
as Ablynx, Innogenetics, Cropdesign and Bayer Cropscience, are
situated in the central and southern part of the city.
As the largest city in East Flanders,
Ghent has many hospitals,
schools and shopping streets.
Flanders Expo, the biggest event hall in
Flanders and the second biggest in Belgium, is also located in Ghent.
Tourism is becoming a major employer in the local area.[citation
needed] Recently a local business man donated a substantial amount of
money to have all the kerbs lowered by two inches in the city
As one of the largest cities in Belgium,
Ghent has a highly developed
The R4 ringroad
By car the city is accessible via two motorways:
The E40 connects
Ostend to the west, and with
Liège to the east.
The E17 connects
Antwerp to the north, and
Lille to the south.
Ghent also has two ringways:
The R4 connects the outskirts of
Ghent with each other and the
surrounding villages, and also leads to the E40 and E17 roads.
The R40 connects the different downtown quarters with each other and
provides access to the main avenues.
Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station, Ghent
The municipality of
Ghent comprises five railway stations:
Gent-Sint-Pieters Station: an international railway station with
connections to Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, Kortrijk, other Belgian
towns and Lille. The station also offers a direct connection to
Gent-Dampoort Station: an intercity railway station with connections
to Sint-Niklaas, Antwerp,
Kortrijk and Eeklo.
Gentbrugge Station: a regional railway station in between the two main
railway stations, Sint-Pieters and Dampoort.
Wondelgem Station: a regional railway station with connections to
Eeklo once an hour.
Drongen Station: a regional railway station in the village of Drongen
with connections to
Bruges once an hour.
Ghent has an extensive network of public transport lines, operated by
A HermeLijn low-floor tram in Ghent
Main article: Trams in Ghent
Flanders Expo – Sint-Pieters-Station – Korenmarkt (city
Wondelgem - Evergem
Zwijnaarde Bibliotheek - Sint-Pieters-Station - Zonnestraat
(city centre) - Brabantdam - Zuid - Melle Leeuw (fuse of line 21 and
22 as of May 2017)
Line 4: UZ - Sint-Pieters-Station – Muide – Korenmarkt (city
centre) – Zuid – Moscou
Zwijnaarde Bibliotheek - Sint-Pieters-Station – Zonnestraat
(city centre) – Zuid – Melle Leeuw (fused into line 2)
Line 22: Kouter - Bijlokehof - Sint-Pieters-Station – Zonnestraat
(city centre) – Zuid –
Gentbrugge (fused into line 2)
Van Hool articulated bus in Ghent
Line 3: Mariakerke – Korenmarkt (city centre) – Dampoort –
Gentbrugge (formerly a trolleybus line; see picture below)
Line 5: Van Beverenplein – Sint-Jacobs (city centre) – Zuid –
Heuvelpoort - Nieuw-Gent
Line 6: Watersportbaan – Zuid – Dampoort – Meulestede -
Wondelgem – Mariakerke
Line 8: AZ Sint-Lucas - Sint-Jacobs (city centre) - Zuid - Heuvelpoort
Line 9: Mariakerke – Malem – Sint-Pieters-Station –
Drongen – Malem - Korenmarkt (city centre) - Dampoort
Line 38/39: Blaarmeersen – Ekkergem -Korenmarkt (city centre) –
Dampoort – Sint-Amandsberg
Apart from the city buses mentioned above,
Ghent also has numerous
regional bus lines connecting it to towns and villages across the
province of East Flnaders. All of these buses stop in at least one of
the city's regional bus hubs at either Sint-Pieters Station, Dampoort
Station, Zuid or Rabot.
International buses connecting
Ghent to other European destinations
are usually found at the Dampoort Station. A couple of private bus
companies such as Eurolines, Megabus and Flixbus operate from the
Dampoort bus hub.
Buses to and from Belgium's second airport -
Brussels South Airport
Charleroi - are operated by Flibco, and can be found at the rear exit
of the Sint-Pieters Station.
Ghent has the largest designated cyclist area in Europe, with nearly
400 kilometres (250 mi) of cycle paths and more than 700 one-way
streets, where bikes are allowed to go against the traffic. It also
boasts Belgium’s first cycle street, where cars are considered
‘guests’ and must stay behind cyclists.
In the Belgian first football division
Ghent is represented by K.A.A.
Gent, who became
Belgian football champions for the first time in its
history in 2015. Another
Ghent football club is KRC Gent-Zeehaven,
playing in the Belgian fourth division. A football match at the 1920
Summer Olympics was held in Ghent.
The Six Days of Flanders, a six-day track cycling race, is held
annually, taking place in the
Kuipke velodrome in Ghent. In road
cycling, the city hosts the start and finish of the Omloop Het
Nieuwsblad, the traditional opening race of the cobbled classics
season. It also lends its name to another cobbled classic,
Gent–Wevelgem, although the race now starts in the nearby city of
The city hosts an annual athletics
IAAF event in the
Arena: the Indoor
Flanders meeting. Two-time Olympic champion Hicham
El Guerrouj set a still-standing world record of 3:48.45 in the mile
run in 1997.
Flanders Sports Arena was host to the 2015 Davis Cup Final between
Belgium and Great Britain.
Emperor Charles V was born in
Ghent in 1500
Jacob van Artevelde
Jacob van Artevelde on the Vrijdagmarkt in Ghent
See also: List of people from Ghent
Saint Bavo, patron saint of
Saint Livinus of Ghent, (580–657)
Henry of Ghent, scholastic philosopher (c. 1217–1293)
Jacob van Artevelde, statesman and political leader (c. 1290–1345)
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340–1399)
Jan van Eyck, painter (c. 1385–1441)
Hugo van der Goes, painter (c. 1440–1482)
Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
(1445/1446–15 August 1506)
Jacob Obrecht, composer of the
Renaissance (c. 1457–1505)
Pedro de Gante, Franciscan missionary in
Mexico (c. 1480–1572)
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Karel V, Charles Quint (1500–1558)
Cornelius Canis, composer of the Renaissance, music director for the
chapel of Charles V in the 1540s–1550s
Daniel Heinsius, scholar of the Dutch
Caspar de Crayer, painter (1582–1669)
Josse Boutmy, composer, organist and harpsichordist (1697–1779)
Frans de Potter, writer, (1834–1904)
Jan Frans Willems, writer (1793–1846)
Joseph Guislain, physician (1797–1860)
Hippolyte Metdepenningen, lawyer and politician (1799–1881)
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII of France was exiled in
Ghent during the
Hundred Days in
Charles John Seghers,
Jesuit clergyman and missionary (1839–1886)
Art Nouveau architect (1861–1947)
Maurice Maeterlinck, poet, playwright, essayist, recipient of the
Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature (1862–1949)
Frans Rens, writer, (1805–1874)
Leo Baekeland, chemist and inventor of
Pierre Louÿs, poet and romantic writer (1870–1925)
Marthe Boël, feminist (1877–1956)
Karel van de Woestijne, writer (1878–1929)
Corneille Jean François Heymans, physiologist and recipient of the
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1892–1968)
Gustave Van de Woestijne, painter (1881–1947)
Suzanne Lilar, essayist, novelist, and playwright (1901–1992)
Willy De Clercq, liberal politician and European Commissioner
Jacques Rogge, former president of the IOC (born 1942)
Patrick Sercu, Belgian track cyclist (born 1944)
Gerard Mortier, Belgian opera director (born 1943)
Soulwax & 2 Many DJs, electronic/rock band headed by David and
Gabriel Ríos, musician (born 1978)
Cédric Van Branteghem, athlete (born 1979)
Bradley Wiggins, British cyclist (born 1980)
Kevin De Bruyne, professional footballer (born 1991)
Xavier Henry, shooting guard/small forward for the NBA's Los Angeles
Lakers (born 1991)
Gaelle Mys, Olympic gymnast (born 1991)
Tiesj Benoot, cyclist (born 1994)
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Belgium
Twin towns – sister cities
Ghent is twinned with:
Nottingham, England, United Kingdom
List of Mayors of Ghent
^ Population per municipality as of 1 January 2017 (XLS; 397 KB)
^ Statistics Belgium; Werkelijke bevolking per gemeente op 1 januari
2009 (excel-file) Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of 1
January 2009. Retrieved on 2010-11-28.
^ Statistics Belgium; Werkelijke bevolking per gemeente op 1 januari
2008 (excel-file) Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of 1
January 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
^ Statistics Belgium; De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001 (pdf-file)
Archived 29 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Definitions of
metropolitan areas in Belgium. The metropolitan area of
divided into three levels. First, the central agglomeration
(agglomeratie) with 278,457 inhabitants (1 January 2008). Adding the
closest surroundings (banlieue) gives a total of 455,302. And,
including the outer commuter zone (forensenwoonzone) the population is
594,582. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
^ a b "History of Gent". www.gent.be. Archived from the original on 18
August 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2006.
^ Adrian Room, Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the
Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features, and
Historic Sites, McFarland, 2006, p. 144.
^ Nicholas, David. The Domestic Life of a
Medieval City: Women,
Children and the Family in Fourteenth Century Ghent. p. 1.
^ a b https://visit.gent.be/en/history-0?context=tourist
^ "Climate Summary for Ghent, Belgium". weatherbase.com. Retrieved 18
^ "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on October 26,
^ "Ghent's veggie day: for English speaking visitors" on
^ "Belgian city plans 'veggie' days" on
BBC News (12 May 2009).
^ a b "
Belgium breaks: The best way to see glorious Ghent? On two
wheels... Daily Mail Online". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 18 May
^ "Nature Domain De Bourgoyen Visit Gent". visitgent.be. Retrieved
18 May 2015.
^ "Blaarmeersen Sport and Recreation Park - Sightseeing in Ghent".
inyourpocket.com. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved
18 May 2015.
^ FIFA Confederations Cup - Olympic Football Tournament
Antwerp 1920 -
FIFA.com Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race guide". Team Sky.
^ Beaudin, Matthew (23 March 2013). "Storied Ghent-Wevelgem poised for
a brutal edition". VeloNews. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
^ "World records". iaaf.org. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
Ghent to host 2015 Davis Cup Final". daviscup.com. 23 September
2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
^ a b c d e f g h "
Ghent Zustersteden". Stad Gent (in Dutch). City of
Ghent. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
^ "European networks and city partnerships".
Nottingham City Council.
Archived from the original on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 20 July
^ "Wiesbaden's international city relations". Retrieved 24 December
See also: Bibliography of the history of Ghent
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ghent.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ghent.
Official website (in Dutch)
Official Tourist website (in Dutch) (in English) (in French) (in
German) (in Spanish)
Flanders Tourism Website (in Dutch) (in French) (in German) (in
Spanish) (in Swedish) (in Danish) (in Italian) (in Czech) (in
Japanese) (in Chinese)
Places adjacent to Ghent
Sint-Martens-Latem, De Pinte, Merelbeke
Municipalities in the Province of East Flanders, Flanders, Belgium