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Ronald

Cities of Belgium - Pt. 3 - Ghent

2 posts in this topic

Pt. 1 - Brussels:1

Pt. 1 - Brussels:2

Pt. 2 - Louvain la Neuve

Ghent

Ghent is the third city of Belgium, with a population of 230,000. It is situated in the so-called 'Flemish Diamond', the Belgian equivalent of Holland's Randstad, or America's Boston-Washington Corridor. The Flemish Diamond is the country's densest populated region, and consists of the diamond-shaped area between Antwerp (N), Brussels (S), Ghent (W) and Leuven (E).

Ghent is also the capital of the province of Eastern Flandres. Since the middle ages, the city has been one of the largest and wealthiest of Europe. For example, until the 13th century, it was the 2nd biggest city of Europe, after Paris (and ahead of Moscow, London etc).

The city has been a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for 15 years (1815-1830). In this period, a university had been established, aswell as a connection to the North Sea (a channel was created by the Dutch).

Around the 3 central towers of the city.

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Got to love the look of those modern trams piercing through those medieval streets!

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During the 60, old channels through the centre have been destroyed, to make way for car traffic. This phenomenon occured in the Netherlands aswell. Today, the old channels are being re-created in Ghent. I only wish they would have chosen a more apropriate bridge for such a historical environment!

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Building adjacent to the channel

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Along the water, in the inner city.

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A centuries-old house, renovated about 20 yrs ago.

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Right, enough pics of the old city centre. The next pictures were taken in one of the inner city residential areas, close to the centre.

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Along certain streets, cul-de-sac-like courtyards were build during the industrial age. These are called 'beluiken'.

Entrance to a 'beluik'.

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Centre of a beluik.

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Another beluik

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Huge fields of empty land are hidden in the neighbourhood. Large factories that were once here have now been demolished, leaving empty fields of grass in the middle of a residential area. I can NOT think of such a thing happening in the Netherlands, where such large empty lots are considered to be 'opportunities for development'. Developers would have quickly claimed that land here. In Belgium, no one seems to mind.

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Graffiti has made these spaces more lively, in a way.

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They also serve as parking spaces.

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You might wonder why some windows are closed off. That's because the number of windows your home had, used to determine the height of the taxes you had to pay.

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Such a contrast with the old, shiny city centre. Can you say that this resembles certain areas in Detroit??

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A change is taking place, though. We did spot some improvements in the neighbourhood:

Gentrification? That is one stylish home in the middle of Ghent's 'ghetto'.

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New roads and sidewalks.

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New aparments U/C

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Next: Bruges and Ieper.

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