/36 Hours in Ghent – The New York Times

36 Hours in Ghent – The New York Times

Bruges! Everyone who travels to the Flemish-speaking a part of Belgium rushes on to that fabled metropolis, with its medieval core, canals and moules frites. But lower than 30 miles to the east, the much less-visited metropolis of Ghent packs in each a kind of appeals and far else. Politically to the left, eco-pleasant and a contact bohemian, town has its personal scenic waterways, hovering spires and a large Gothic cathedral the place you’ll discover one of probably the most beautiful work from the Middle Ages. There are additionally first-price museums, vivid avenue artwork, some splashy new inns in centuries-outdated edifices and, tucked away in the maze of cobblestone streets, a number of the nation’s greatest eating places. Come night, when town heart is fantastically illuminated, bold cocktail lounges, pure wine bars and conventional beer emporiums supply a nightcap for any thirst.

Holy Food Market — another deconsecrated church that now houses a bar and more than a dozen food counters — provides your daily bread, as well as your daily sushi, curry, pizza and bacalhau. Japanese, Indian, Italian, Portuguese and other cuisines provide one-stop global roaming, while French and Belgian specialties are on offer at Bubba (including crunchy croquettes of Emmental cheese and local Ganda ham; 4 euros) and Sea Me (notably, classic moules frites; 9 euros). The stylish central bar even serves (and sells) the market’s own house gin, distilled with Ghent’s famous Tierenteyn-Verlent mustard.

If you’ve ever fantasized about lounging in a bright red armchair made from corrugated cardboard while sporting a salmon-skin bikini, head to Design Museum Gent (adults, 8 euros), where those innovative objects (designed by Frank Gehry and Birgit Kraner, respectively) and hundreds of others are on view. Housed in an 18th-century townhouse, the museum uses period rooms of parquet floors, painted wallpaper and chandeliers for its temporary exhibitions, and more modern spaces for “Object Stories,” its permanent collection of (mostly) 20th-century design icons and iconoclasts. Classics like an Art Deco silver set by Philippe Woolfers, an S-shaped chair from Verner Panton, and a red plastic Olivetti typewriter by Ettore Sottsass shine alongside fabulously freaky items like Shiro Kuramata’s steel mesh love seat and Kraner’s fishy fashions.

With their street murals and independent designers, the narrow lanes of the medieval Patershol neighborhood showcase Ghent’s creative side. Highlights include huge black and white rabbits by the local artist ROA (along Tempelhof), and two adjacent buildings (in Sleepstraat) sporting multistory scenes — both eerie and dreamlike — by A Squid Called Sebastian and Violant. For local goods, the street whose name shifts from Sluizeken to Oudberg to Kraanlei turns up elaborate women’s hats by Ria Dewilde (Sjapoo), minimalist leather handbags by Mayenne Nelen (Mayenne. Shop) and wild sculptural lighting made from musical instruments and cookware (Blue Poodle Gallery).

A trip to the Low Countries isn’t complete until you’ve encountered the Renaissance religious art of Hieronymus Bosch. To do so, head to Room 3 of the M.S.K. (Museum of Fine Arts; 8 euros). “Christ Carrying the Cross” depicts Jesus accosted by a scary mob, while in “Saint Jerome” the artist’s namesake lies prostrate in a dark, eerie landscape as an owl and lion look on. The regional survey continues in other rooms with ominous religious work by Rubens, stern portraits by Franz Hals, lively village scenes by Pieter Bruegel the Younger, wonderfully strange proto-expressionism from James Ensor, and the creepy surrealistic humor of Rene Magritte. for a taste of the 21st century, the S.M.A.K. contemporary art museum is just across the street.

Opened earlier this year in a former baronial residence, the 157-room Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof Ghent (pillowshotels.com/ghent; doubles from 165 euros) is a Neoclassical mix of marble floors, Ionic columns and sweeping staircases.

Locally famous for its clock tower, the late 19th-century, neo-Gothic post office building on Ghent’s main square was reborn last year as 1898 The Post (zannierhotels.com/1898thepost/en; doubles recently from 143 euros), a plush, 38-room boutique hotel with a beautiful cocktail bar and upscale shopping center in the same complex.

True to its name, Furnished Apartments Gent (furnishedapartmentsgent.be/) has a collection of studios, one-bedrooms and larger accommodations for rent by the week or month in various neighborhoods. Weekly rentals start around 300 to 400 euros.

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