Ghent, Belgium

IMG_3570.jpgGhent, the capital of East Flanders, Belgium has been one of Jay and Tanya’s favorite places for years.

Ghent is often passed over in favor of nearby Brugge when travelers visit Belgium but this is a big mistake. Although Brugge is certainly beautiful it’s often overrun by tourists, especially in summer. Ghent, meanwhile, gives the impression that people actually live here, which they do. Like Brugge, it’s got scenic canals. It’s got chocolate. And, of course, it has oceans of Belgian beer.IMG_3571

Ghent’s historic center is a terrific place to sit outside, enjoy some Belgian frites and, of course, a glass of Westmalle or Leffe. IMG_3573IMG_3574IMG_3578IMG_3579IMG_3583

The most dramatic structure in town is the Gravensteen castle. IMG_3575Built in 1180, it was the home of the Counts of Flanders until the 14th century. At one point in history the castle was used as a prison and it now houses a torture museum complete with various means of inflicting physical punishment. This brings up another whole subject——why do so many towns in Belgium and Germany have an obligatory “torture museum”? I mean, it seems like some places that perhaps never had a history of torture at all now have opened a museum catering to bloodthirsty tourists eager to see examples of the iron chair, the rack or the head crusher. Yikes!! But, I think this kind of stuff actually did take place at Gravensteen.

Anyway, we guarantee a visit to Ghent won’t be a torturing experience. Just enjoy it like the Belgians do.

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