As for the city, where marching with a noose around your neck is a real honor, Ghent is strongly tied to tradition. It’s famous for a great exhibition of flowers and plants organized every five years, as well as being the first city on the European continent, which reached the industrial revolution.
The literal translation of the word "stroppendragers" means those, who wear a noose. Nowadays, in order to be called so, you must be a member of the prestigious guild. And where this term comes from? In the turbulent sixteenth century Ghent were striking against high taxes imposed by the Emperor Charles V. Angry ruler punished the inhabitants by forcing them to participate in humiliating procession. The most recognized townspeople and members of several guilds marched through the streets barefoot with nooses around their necks, wearing only shirts. The Emperor didn’t think that the punishment will become a great honor, and the procession - an annual tradition, celebrated during the festival, Gentse Feesten.
Floralies of Ghent
Ghent is famous not only for stubbornness and proud residents. Every five years, there’s a huge exhibition of flowers and plants - Floralies of Ghent. First, modest presentation of plant was organized more than 200 years ago by the Ghent Society of Horticulture and Agriculture. In 1913, the city held the World Expo, which initiated a series of successes.
Currently, Ghent’s plants’ exhibitions attract hundreds of thousands of people coming from different countries. Grand opening of the show belongs to the Belgian royal family members. The next exhibition will take place from April 22 to May 1, 2016.
What to see in Ghent?
Ghent is a beautiful city located in the north-western part of Belgium. Since the beginning, it supported the development of art and culture. It was the first center in Europe, to which the industrial revolution reached, and the films were shown there already in 1901 (in the cinema Valentino).
As befits the old city (the region was inhabited since the time of Celts), Ghent boasts a large number of monuments. One of them is the church of St. Martin, dating back to the thirteenth century. A huge building, with a spectacular view of the entire city. The entrance to the tower of the temple is paid.
Another religious monument, which is worth seeing, is the cathedral of St. Bavo (Sint-Baafskathedraal). It’s the place of baptism of the Emperor Charles V. Inside the temple there’s a famous painting in the Baroque style – the Ghent Altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb). It was created by two brothers: Hubert and Jan van Eyck.
Monumental Gravensteen makes an equally big impression on tourists. It houses a museum, and from the castle tower you can see the whole panorama of Ghent. Another building that is famous for its impressive size is castle Gerard de Duivelsteen. Unfortunately, you can only admire it from the outside. Despite this, every year thousands of people come to town only to see it.
If not monuments, then what?
Ghent's main attractions include monuments, but there’s no lack of other interesting points in the city. The masculine part of tourists may be interested in Glazen straatje ("Glass Street"), with rows of windows full of tempting female representatives of the oldest profession in the world. In contrast, both women and men will be delighted with the view of Sint-Michielsbrug, a huge bridge. From here you can admire the magnificent buildings of the old town.
During your stay, it’s worth trying the Flemish cuisine. The traditional local dish are, of course, Belgian fries with various sauces (mainly based on mayonnaise) and Waterzooi, a thick fish soup with vegetables and herbs. In the evening you can take a walk to the pump room and try flavored shots or to the pub, where you can enjoy a few dozen types of beer. In Ghent there’s a lot of such places, because the inhabitants love to party. It’s evidenced by the number of clubs and the noise that comes from them. It’s full of joy and youth, which isn’t surprising - after all, it is the largest student city in Belgium.