Exploring Gent

It was a cool blustery day here in Gent, Belgium with occasional showers so with our Gent passes in hand, we set out to explore the city's museums.

Just outside what was once the old city lies a nicely restored castle from the 12th century. There's not a lot to see inside, but it was fun to walk on the stone walls of the castle overlooking the city. The castle houses a torture museum. For those with ghoulish curiosity, it would be interesting and informative, but I only gave it a quick walk through. Above each instrument was a print from long ago showing how it was used. I scurried out of that room in a hurry. In another room was a powerful and moving black and white photo exhibition called Departures showing the faces of people at the end of their life with their story. While not uplifting, it was well done.

Our next stop was the Design Museum featuring art nouveau and Art Deco. A special exhibition featured chairs created by the Danish designer Arne Jacobson. The chairs had a sleek simplistic design. We first saw his work two years ago when we visited a hotel in Copenhagen where my parents stayed in 1963. Today the hotel has the wonderful quality of being caught In a time warp. Upstairs in the museum were rooms from the early 1900s with period furniture. When created they had elements of the new while paying homage to the old traditions.

Late in the afternoon we visited two churches. The Church of St. Nicholas had an enormous drum type music wheel from 1659. We watched it play the bells heard throughout the city every hour.

The highlight to any trip to Gent is a visit to St. Bravos Cathedral to see the magnificent altarpiece Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. It was painted by the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck and his brother Hubert in the 15th century. It was the first church painting to show people as they really are rather than angels with wings. The colors are stunning. It was the first art work of note done using oil paint. While we were in the church, the organist was practicing for a concert. I love organ concerts and find them very moving.

Dinner tonight was at Balls and Glory. They feature salads and creative meatballs or veggie balls. I had a delicious salad with mint and couscous. We spent some time strolling the streets along the canals. With the city lit up against a backdrop of a full moon, all cameras were aimed at the skyline as we headed back to our room, the end of a perfect day.


CoachSparky said…
That torture museum sounds rather morbid! I don't blame you for going through very quickly. I would have done the same thing!

Were you allowed to take pictures inside the Design Museum? It sounds like it has some very cool furniture.

The first oil painting of note-- did they mention if it needs a lot of restoration?
Explorer Bear said…
we did take pictures in the Design Museum. The way they displayed things was great. About the oil painting, they think earlier restoration in the 1800s actually changed some of the painting to fit the taste of the time period. Now they are bringing it back to the way it looked originally.

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