Destination: Ghent
Top Ten
1 The Ghent Altarpiece
2 Gravensteen
3 Kerkhof Campo Santo
4 Kuip van Gent
5 Patershol
6 Prinsenhof
7 St Baafskathedraal
8 St Elisabethbegijnhof
9 Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.)
10 Vrijdagmarkt
4 Kuip van Gent

This is the medieval port area of the city, with magnificent guild houses and charming views of the historic city.

The Kuip van Gent, the Ghent basin, includes the part of the River Leie that flows through the city centre and the Lieve canal. A 40-minute boat trip takes you past the silent evidence of ten turbulent centuries. The best introduction to the city is to look at the Graslei with its medieval guild houses and the oldest stepped gable in the whole of the Low Countries, indisputably one of the most beautiful cityscapes in Europe. Until 1827 the skippers used to unload corn here. The worthies of Ghent built their five-storey houses higher than elsewhere, earning the city the nickname of 'Manhattan of the 13th century'. You sail under small swing bridges into the 19th century: the grey district where men, women and children were worked to death cotton spinning, soap boiling and weaving. This is the route the fishermen took to the fish market with their catch and where beer deliveries reached the beer quay. It is said that the city's monks regularly visited the port by night, in their small boats. Once there they picked up ladies of the night and loaded the boats with barrels of wine. From the Onthoofdingsbrug ('beheading bridge') miscreants could get their last glimpse of the traders taking their goods to Damme. Next, the Gravensteen comes into view and you reach the Lieve, with its weeping willows along the bank. At the end of the tour you see Rabot, a textbook example of military construction from the 15th century and almost the only part that remains of the original 14km of the city wall.

Two boat firms operate in the Ghent basin: 'Bootjes van Gent' and 'Benelux', but remember that the covered boats are too big to go under the small bridges of the Lieve which means you will miss the most picturesque section.

Address: Korenlei/Graslei
Phone: 09-2238853/ 09-2243233
Open: Apr-Nov: daily 10-7. Evening cruises during Ghent festivals; Dec-Mar: advance booking needed
Restaurant: Restaurants on the Graslei (Moderately priced)
Bus: Tram 1, 10, 11, 41
Boat: Bootjes van Gent/ Benelux
Accessible: Good
Admission: Moderate
Practical: Cocktail cruises on request

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