Travel

Glorious Ghent: trendy next to traditional

The conference will be held in the heart of the historic city of Ghent (in Dutch: Gent). The city of Ghent is located centrally in Flanders, halfway between the cities of Brussels and Bruges. Flanders is the northern part of Belgium and home to the Dutch-speaking part of the Belgian population. Ever since the Middle ages, Flanders has been at the crossroads of the great European trade routes while Flemish merchants swarmed out to every corner of the world. In the late Middle Ages, Ghent was the second largest city in Europe (Paris was the largest). Its magnificent medieval city centre is still a splendid reminder of those times.

Ghent is much less well-known than its famous neighbours Brussels and Bruges, but is considered the most enjoyable city of Flanders. Ghent’s architecture is imposing, particularly along the scenic old Graslei harbour, grand medieval cathedrals and the Gravensteen castle. Just like Bruges and Antwerp, Ghent abounds in culture, art and world famous painters. Its single most important work of art undoubtedly is the fifteenth-century painting ‘The Adoration of the Lamb’ (or ‘Ghent Altarpiece’) by The Van Eyck brothers. It truly deserves the description medieval gem.

At the same time, Ghent is a progressive city marked by a vast cultural offer, rich music scene, lively business life and Belgium’s largest university. It is among Europe’s leading cities when it comes to locally driven green projects and sustainability. Following the success of digital research centre iMinds and urban renewal project De Krook, Ghent has developed as a vibrant creative city connecting media technology, science, entrepreneurship, culture and arts.

According to the September ’09 issue of the tourist guide Lonely Planet, Ghent is ‘Belgium’s best kept secret’:

“It is surprising how Belgium has managed to stay so quiet about Ghent for so long. Once medieval Europe’s largest second city, over the past century this unsung treasure of a town has developed a strong artistic bent, and is now one of the best places in Europe for culture – there are many fantastic museums and galleries here, and more listed buildings than any other Belgian city”

For more information about Ghent, please go to https://visit.gent.be/en/home

How to get to Ghent?

Ghent is only 45 minutes from the international airport of Zaventem ‘Brussels Airport’, where flights arrive from and depart to more than 70 destinations. On the lowest level you will find the airport’s own railway station, Brussel-Nationaal-Luchthaven, accessible by lift and escalator from the arrivals hall. There are several connections to Ghent per day. Brussels South/Charleroi Airport is 70 minutes from Ghent. There are more than 20 bus connections from the airport to the capital every day. From there frequent train connections to Ghent are available (see http://www.nmbs.be).

Ghent has two main stations: Gent-Sint-Pieters and Dampoort station. Ghent-Sint-Pieters is easy to reach by trains from all Belgian and European cities (by ‘IC’ Inter City or ‘IR’ Inter Regio trains) and is only half an hour from Brussels South Station, where the Eurostar, Thalys and ICE high-speed trains can rush you to Paris (1 ½ hours) and London, Amsterdan or Cologne (2 ½ hours). Other art cities Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp are only half an hour away.

From Gent-Sint-Pieters, tram no. 1 will take you directly to the city centre (stop at ‘Korenmarkt’). The conference location and suggested hotels are all within a 5 minute walking distance. Taxis can be found at the left side of the station; a trip to to the city centre will cost you about €13.