Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ghent - 21 January 2006

Canal by nightCanal by dayEurostar tempted us away with a weekend to Ghent, a picturesque town between Brussels and Bruges. Since it happened to almost coincide with a birthday, we packed our bags and headed for the continent. The city authorities have done an excellent job of lighting the buildings at night, making the old town just as attractive to view at night as it is in the day. The beautiful buildings along the GrasleiGraslei by night
We stayed in a monastery that had been converted into a hotel, makes a change from the typical hotel architecture!

Picture from Web Gallery of ArtThe must-see attraction in Ghent is a 1432 painting, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. For €3 you get an audio guide with a fascinating commentary about this polyptych altarpiece and it’s history. The fact that you can see it all in one place is amazing in itself, given its chequered history. The painting is a fascinating theological treatise with amazing detail, e.g. the 42 identifiable species of plants in the central panel.

WMD, Weapon of Mass DisappointmentAnother interesting piece from the C15th or C16th (depending on which web site you read) is a cannon weighing over 16 tonnes and a little over 5m long that was designed to fire 340kg cannonballs. However, according to the guide on the boat trip, it only ever fired twice and the average distance this massive gun hurled these huge projectiles was 50 cm. Obviously enemies were terrified in the face of this WMD (Weapon of Mass Disappointment).

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