Heritage textiles and fine design in a medieval gem - Andrea Black of The Australian visits Ghent.

Situated in the heart of Flanders between Brussels and the Belgian coast, Ghent is a compact city filled with spectacular medieval cathedrals. Begin a stroll at St Michael’s Bridge for a photo opportunity of the big three cathedral towers in one frame — St Nicholas’ Church, the Belfry and St Bavo’s Cathedral. The Scheldt gothic-style central tower at St Nicholas’ Church acts as a natural lantern, with the light shining directly into the transept. At the Belfry, a UNESCO World Heritage site, make your way to the top for a great city vista. 

Plan a cruise along the River Leie and through the canals for just before sunset, when the light is at its best and guildhouses from as early as the 12th century are reflected in the water. Look up to the Flemish sky that Jacques Brel sang so fondly about in the tune Marieke and view the cathedral towers in the distance. While sipping on champagne on a guided canal tour with De Bootijes Van Gent, you’ll putter past Gravensteen, the Castle of the Counts, a giant fortress built in the 12th century for the ruling dynasty of Flanders. It has an Arms Museum as well as the Museum of Judicial Objects full of centuries-old instruments of torture and coercion.

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