Thursday, March 7, 2013
On our final day in Belgium, the boys and I took the train to Ghent, home of Gravensteen Castle. Ghent is a beautiful little town much like Brugge only bigger. In the fourteenth century it was the second biggest city in Europe right after Paris so it boasts several large cathedrals and, of course, a very cool castle built in 1180 by Count Philip of Alsace. The castle seemed very traditional, like something you would picture in epic fairy tales filled with heroic knights, very different from Castelo dos Mouros and Castelo São Jorge in Portugal. The castle is home to a very impressive collection of medieval weaponry, awe-inspiring and brutal. I was stunned that human beings, especially medieval-sized humans, could wield such massive weapons and the boys were mesmerized. It also houses a very extensive collection of torture tools that we couldn't bring ourselves to look at. There are some things that we are better off not knowing. After exploring every nook and cranny, we headed out in the bitter wind and cold, with the occasional snow/rain pelting in search of more towers. In the first cathedral we visited there was no entrance up the tower. In the second, we listened to an organist practicing for Sunday service. With no luck in the cathedral tower department, we again headed for the bell tower in the town square where we climbed the stairs and were serenaded by bells. The carillon drum in this tower is no longer operational so a keyboardist was playing a song and the music lasted much longer than when we were in Brugge. After a satisfying day of castles, terrifying weaponry, musical bells and organs, big views, and, of course, chocolate, we headed back to the train that would bring us back to Brussels.
Click here for photos.