The Four City-Gods of Flanders (2)

(You can read part ! of the article here) If the first two cities are among the landmarks of Belgium and Flanders, the next one I will be in has unjustly been avoided. Luckily, the Lonely Planet guide has done justice to Ghent (its name also being related to water – delta), by including it to the best 10 travel destinations for 2011. I will do the same, by awarding it the image of Odin, the most important Nordic God, and not just as a consolation prize. Odin is a complex God, as the city itself, being the patron of commerce and war, of wisdom and arts. Ghent has been a prosperous citadel, a political centre and nowadays an important economic and artistic point of attraction for Belgium. Ghent is the son of two rivers that become one here, just before reaching the sea, being portrayed by the love story of Scheldt and Lys. The city has a well-preserved medieval architecture as well, among which the Gravensteen Castle dating from the 12th century, and the Romanesque-style Saint Bavo Cathedral, where one can descend in the catacombs and admire the great masterpiece of Hubert and Jan van Eyck, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. The city perfectly combines modern life (cafes, libraries, the university, concerts) with the old buildings bearing the signature of famous architects. It is multi-faced indeed, exactly as the soul of the God I have seen in it. The last, but not the least, I make a final twist to Ypres, one of the most important Flemish cities during the Middle Ages along with Ghent and Bruges. Nowadays, after two world wars, it hosts a huge graveyard of heroes and even if it was badly damaged by bombings, it has been fully reconstructed. Due to this fact, I associate it with Thor, the ancient God of both destruction and protection of mankind. I will not make any comments on Ypres; my former professor Ana Adi has already done this for Travel here. Instead, I would like to end this post by sharing with you a short story of what happened to me when visiting it two years ago: It was a lovely 4th of May and people gathered at the Menin Gate were commemorating the victims of the world wars in whose honour the Last Post ceremony was held. I thought I found a good place to film and photograph it, but an elder lady was still not decided where to stand thus, was constantly moving and impeding me to see anything. So, I tried to adapt to this, got a step ahead and put some order in the crowd, but the lady reacted as if she were offended. Without realizing that her English was excellent, far too good to be an inhabitant’s, I started arguing with her. Her peace-making husband intervened and asked her to make room for me, as I deserved it for being that brave and persuasive. The end of story: both were American tourists, having come to commemorate their relatives perished in the world wars. The man told me something that made me feel really proud: “If I had a company, I would immediately hire you to manage my sales team, as you are very convincing”. We took a picture together and they left, wishing me good luck in my future career, assuring me that I would succeed in everything I wanted to do. If they read this article by any chance, I would like to send to them my best wishes.

Ypres
Ypres

Gent Belfry
Gent Belfry

Lavinia

I am a communication professional and a passionate traveler around Europe. Living and working in Brussels, I am happy to share my experiences of interacting with different cultures. I love reading, writing and discovering new fascinating people and places.

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