|'Ghent' by Fobach (cc 2.0)|
My home town Ghent made it into the top 10 of Lonely Planet's hottest cities for 2011. It's being described as one of Europe's best-kept secrets, often overlooked in favour of Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp:
'Most Belgium-bound visitors rushing between these see nothing more than the stately fortifications of Ghent’s St Pieter’s Station. Those who do hop off the train and stroll along the Leie River to the historic centre will have their eyes out on stalks. Here hides one of Europe’s finest panoramas of water, spires and centuries-old grand houses.' lpI might not be entirely objective, but I agree with all my heart. Ghent is an amazing city to visit and to live in. It feels authentic and alive, with a rich history, great pubs and restaurants, an imposing castle in the middle of the historic city centre and lots of festivals, museums and cultural events.
The locals are known for being open-minded and strong-willed, and - like in most places in Flanders - most people speak several languages (usually Flemish/Dutch, English, French and some German) and will go out of their way to show you the best of what their city has to offer.
Belgians are proud of their Burgundian lifestyle, and it shows. All over the city you will find bakeries, tea rooms and chocolate shops, inviting you in with displays of delicious sweets and treats. Many of the pubs offer over 100 different beers to choose from.
When night falls, Ghent becomes even more beautiful. Thanks to the award-winning and well-crafted lighting plan, the city turns into a fairy-tale setting, with different quarters and atmospheres to cater to every mood, from romantic to vibrant, from relaxed to haunting.
To add images to words, here's a video that gives a good impression of the city:
Have you ever been to Ghent? Which are your favourite sights?