Gent (I)

Gent (Ghent, Gand) is again our temporary place of residence. We arrived here on the 19th of September and are not planning to leave before the 25th of October. It’s really a gem of a city. Here’s a picture, randomly taken if you like, of its prettiness - just serving as an appetizer.

Gent’s city hall again, slightly different from the one we already published in week 37. It’s meant to create a sort of cohesion in the order of the shown pictures. Is that ambitious or what?

The chimneys on top of the town hall are covered in marble. Yes, marble! We cannot remember ever to have seen this, not even when visiting a top rank castle – say Vaux le Vicomte (week 46 – 2012).

The ‘Gentenaars’ started building their Belfort (Belfry) in 1313, which by the way is some 28 generations back now. The Belfry served as the proud symbol of medieval Gent’s power. Only the lower half of the present tower was completed initially. For several ages different wooden spires adorned the tower. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the present, seventh!, permanent(?) spire was put in place. The Belfort, already visible on the second picture (cohesion) is open to the public. It looks a bit daunting but one of us did it. We wanted at least one overall picture of the city as seen from the Belfort. Everything for the blog! The other one had a relaxing cup of coffee, meanwhile reading a paper, in the adjacent Belfort Stadscafe. As we say in The Netherlands: ‘there are apostles and martyrs’.

Climbing the Belfort requires to ascend around 55 steps, after which there’s a choice between (a lot) more steps or a lift. For reasons even unknown to the decision-maker the steps were chosen over the lift. As these picture proves it was both steep and narrow. In case of oncoming traffic some contortionism was demanded. It all went well – and people with rucksacks should be banned from both medieval galleries as well as medieval stairways.

Mission completed – a picture that was taken from the Belfort. The results that day, Wednesday, were not all too spectacular because the sun hid itself behind the clouds the entire day. The next day -a sunny one, and ever since- we continued making pictures. First we played with the idea to climb the Belfort again and do it all over. Even the entrance-fee of € 6,00 was only a negligible little pain. The steps though were not… So this is it from the Belfort, taken during the overcast day. Yes, in the town hall's direction and beyond.

Built against the Belfort is the Lakenhalle (Flemisch, Dutch: Lakenhal) (Cloth Hall/Linen Hall). In medieval times woolen sheets were sold here. Perhaps more about Gent’s Lakenhalle later on. Now this picture is meant to give you a good idea about the position of the building on the next picture.

In the corner, formed by the Belfort and the rear façade of the Lakenhalle, there’s a little building in Louis XV style and dating from 1741. The building served as a house for the jail-warden until 1902 and provided access to the city-jail in the adjoining Lakenhalle. The building is known by the name of ‘Mammelokker’ which will get its explanation with the next picture.

The half-elevated sculpture on top of the entrance-gate depicts an exemplary (Greek-)Roman story about Cimon (father) and Pero (daughter). Cimon is sentenced to death by starvation and jailed. His daughter is allowed to visit him but, self-evidently, forbidden to bring him any food. After a month of supposed starvation, still alive, the warden decides to watch father and daughter secretly during a visit. To his amazement he discovers that she breastfeeds him. He duly informs the deciding magistrate. The latter is impressed by this unique example of the love from a child for a parent to such an extend that he pardons both Cimon and Pero. For more, see: (Dutch) and (English). The building is popularly called ‘Mammelokker’, a combination of the words ‘mamma’ (obvious, think Latin) and ‘lokken’ (local for ‘likken’ – ‘lick’ in English).

Two weeks ago we published a few pictures of nice antique (looking) boats. Our little ship was moored in the far distance, against the high quay which caused some difficulties to step on and off. It’s the other way around now, we are moored where the antiques were two weeks ago. Again visible in the far distance – now on the north side of Portus Ganda. It’s a completely different picture but equally nice, we think. And prove that every picture of a mooring spot is a subjective one.

It’s crystal clear that we do not have any problems getting on and off our ship where we are now – and for the coming four weeks. This area is very popular by Gent’s inhabitants too, particularly the young adult ones. It’s really vivacious although the two men in the foreground are deep asleep. It might be a consequence of Gent’s nightlife, who can tell? We volunteer to clear away their rubbish the next morning, if there is any.

Week in, week out we are told that some 500 (plus) visitors have been looking at our blog. We only know just a few of them and would like to know more of you visitors. So, if you can find the time, write us a little note about who you are, where you live and how you came about to visit our page. That would really please us! Thank you – hope to see you next week.