Thursday, March 09, 2006

Quaint lille town

A couple of Sundays back, I found myself boarding a train to Ghent at the Midi Station of Brussels and ‘bout 25 minutes later, I land in the St.Peter’s station of Ghent.
Ghent is supposedly one of the lesser-known tourist places of Belgium but it seems to be a treat to the visual senses.Check these

Cathedrals, bridges and castles are not a novelty in Europe where most places are abundant with them.
But Ghent is different from the rest, in the sense, that there seems to be not many new buildings in this quaint little town and it seems as if you have turned the clock back by a couple of centuries and have entered the medieval times.

My account would be incomplete if I don’t mention this interesting anecdote – we in India generally think that live-in relationships are the norm in the West but this was disproved in the tram I took in Ghent (from the station to the City center).
There was this guy going around with a paper n pen - now it wasn’t any statistics he was collecting – this is what he said ‘My girlfriend is from Holland and I am from Ghent, I need your autograph supporting us to live together’ and I relented, common, it is not everyday that someone asks you for your autograph J

Having started on this romantic note, the first place I visited was the Gravensteen Castle.

Built in the 12th century, I couldn’t help but compare it to our very own Golconda Fort and was amazed to find similarities –the entrance of the forts, the steps leading to the towers etc. but Golconda is much bigger than this Castle. On display was a range of torture devices employed in those days(including the guillotine) along with the weapons of warfare.

After the castle, a 5-minute walk and I was in the midst of the beautiful river with buildings on either side – called the Graslei and the Koornlei –the gothic buildings and the bridge just add lot of character to the place.

And yes, the cobble-stoned streets are a pleasure to walk on but the sounds that cars make while passing over them can be quite irritating!

Taking a slow walk on the bridge I arrive at the City Center where the Belfry (Clock Tower), St.Nicolus and St.Bavo’s church are located. I just let out a deep sign to drink in the atmosphere of this amazing place where the only thing, which looked really out of place, was the McD outlet.

St.Bavo’s Cathedral has amazing works of art and houses the most famous painting –‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’, dating to early 15th century.

St.Nicholus Church, the older of the two, stands majestically reflecting the blue-gray shades of the stones it has been built with.

The beautiful stained glass paintings on the windows are worth spending hours just admiring them.

This little town can be covered on foot in a few hours with some additional hours thrown in just to admire the beauty of the place, so please do not give it a miss if u r in this part of the world.