This page is about the Belgian city. For other places called Ghent see Ghent (disambiguation).

Province: East Flanders
District: Ghent
Area: 156.18 km²
Population: 229.344 (2004)
Population density: 1468.45 /km²
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Ghent (Gent in Dutch, Gand in French; once Gaunt in English) is a municipality located in Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium, and in the Flemish province of East Flanders, of which it is the capital. The city centre lies at the confluence of rivers Scheldt and Lys. It is situated at the crossing of the European routes E17 and E40.

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The municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the towns of Afsnee, Desteldonk, Drongen, Gentbrugge, Ledeberg, Mariakerke, Mendonk, Oostakker, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Sint-Kruis-Winkel, Wondelgem and Zwijnaarde. On January 1st, 2005 Ghent had a total population of 230.701. The total area is 156.43 km² which gives a population density of 1474.79 inhabitants per km². In terms of population it is Belgium's second largest municipality, and it is Belgium's fourth largest agglomeration.



The region of Ghent was inhabited in Celtic times. The name Ghent comes from the Celtic word 'ganda' which means converging of e.g. two rivers (Schelde and Leie). There are no written records of the Roman period but archeological research confirms that the region of Ghent was further inhabited.

When the Franks invaded the Roman territories (from the end of the 4th century and well into the 5th century) they brought their language with them and Ghent became a region where Celtic and Latin were replaced by (ancient) Dutch.

From the 7th century on, Ghent had two important abbeys Sint-Pieters (625-650) and Sint-Baafs (650). The city grew from several nuclei, the abbeys and a commercial centre. Around 800, the city must have been important enough for Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, to appoint Einhard as abbot of both abbeys. Einhard was the biographer of Charlemagne, Charles the Great.

The rivers flowed in an area where a lot of land was periodically inundated. These richly grassed 'meersen' ("water-meadows": a word related to the English 'marsh', but not meaning exactly the same, a 'meers' is not permanently under water) were ideally suited for herding sheep, the wool of which was used for making cloth. In fact, Ghent was during the middle ages the most important city for cloth.

Outside Italy, Ghent was the biggest city after Paris until the 13th century; it was bigger than London, Cologne or Moscow. Within the city walls lived up to 65.000 people. Today, the center of the city still has several large towers, the belfry and the towers of the Cathedral and Sint-Niklaas Church are just a few examples of what could be called the 'Manhattan of the Middle Ages'.

Ghent was a city where the wool-industry originally established at Bruges (Brugge) created the first European industrialized zone in the High Middle Ages; the mercantile zone was so highly-developed that wool had to be imported from England. This was one of the reasons for Flanders' good relationship with England.


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Belfry of Ghent. Behind it the Saint Nicholas church is visible.

Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved. Its center is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Interesting highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbor. The city is host to some big cultural events such as the Gentse Feesten, I Love Techno, Flanders International Film Festival Ghent and Festival van Vlaanderen. Night bus services (weekends only) are free of charge.

The city has an extensive port which is accessed by the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, which ends near the Dutch port of Terneuzen on the Western Scheldt.

Ghent was the birthplace of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V, and of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which formally ended the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States of America.

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East Flanders
Aalst: | Aalst | Denderleeuw | Erpe-Mere | Geraardsbergen | Haaltert | Herzele | Lede | Ninove | Sint-Lievens-Houtem | Zottegem |
Dendermonde: | Berlare | Buggenhout | Dendermonde | Hamme | Laarne | Lebbeke | Waasmunster | Wetteren | Wichelen | Zele |
Eeklo: | Assenede | Eeklo | Kaprijke | Maldegem | Sint-Laureins | Zelzate |
Ghent: | Aalter | Deinze | De Pinte | Destelbergen | Evergem | Gavere | Ghent | Knesselare | Lochristi | Lovendegem | Melle | Merelbeke | Moerbeke | Nazareth | Nevele | Oosterzele | Sint-Martens-Latem | Waarschoot | Wachtebeke | Zomergem | Zulte |
Oudenaarde: | Brakel | Horebeke | Kluisbergen | Kruishoutem | Lierde | Maarkedal | Oudenaarde | Ronse | Wortegem-Petegem | Zingem | Zwalm |
Sint-Niklaas: | Beveren | Kruibeke | Lokeren | Sint-Gillis-Waas | Sint-Niklaas | Stekene | Temse |

ang:Gnt bg:Гент da:Gent de:Gent es:Gante eo:Gento (urbo) fr:Gand li:Gent na:Ghent nl:Gent ja:ゲント no:Gent pl:Gandawa ru:Гент sv:Gent


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