Discover East Flanders: From arty masterpieces to cycle racing
There is so much to see and do in East Flanders. Check out beautiful Gent with its many sights and lively festivities, travel to the ‘City of Art’ Oudenaarde for some artistic masterpieces, or try one of the cycling routes in the region. And there is plenty for beer lovers too, including beer walks and brewery visits.
Exploring East Flanders
Ghent is Europe’s best kept secret. The undiscovered Flemish jewel of a city boasts an opera house, a handful of museums, even more ancient churches, and countless bridges spanning the two rivers that wind themselves through the city. The true joy of the town is to be found whiling away an afternoon in an outdoor café. If possible, find a seat on the Graslei, a scenic canal spot in the centre of town, with a great view of the many bridges, grand houses and medieval buildings.
Another highlight is Oudenaarde, located on the left bank of the river Scheldt (Linkeroever) and a true city of art. Admire all the beauty that it has to offer, such as the City Hall with the cloth hall (Lakenhalle), the Huis De Lalaing with the tapestries of Oudenaarde, the Church of Pamele, the Beguinage and the Castle of Liedts.
When visiting the Flemish city of Geraardsbergen (Grammont), foodies simply cannot leave without having tasted the mattentaart, devotedly prepared by the local bakers. It is a unique regional cake that enjoys great fame, even beyond the national borders. The mattentaart was granted Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Union in 2006, indicating they can only be made in Geraardsbergen or in the nearby municipality of Lierde.
The region is also well known for its difficult but popular cycling conditions. The Tour of Flanders Route will take you on a tour of the most legendary hills and cobbled sections. Tourism East-Flanders has combined three cycling loops in one unique Tour of Flanders map, with loads of information, facts and statistics about the route of the Tour.
DO NOT MISS:
MOU – Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes
The museum is housed in one of the most beautiful city halls in Belgium and brings the history of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes to life. Here you can admire the original Oudenaarde tapestries and one of the largest silver collections in Flanders.
STAM Ghent City Museum
Stop by STAM to fully immerse yourself in the town’s history. A truly modern and multimedia museum opened in 2010, this is not a traditional or staid offering, but one that illustrates both the past and the future. From a tomb from the 1200s to the temporary exhibits exploring the concept of urbanity, prepare to be impressed.
Tour of Flanders Centre
If you are a fan of cycle racing, the unique museum in the Tour of Flanders Centre is definitely worth a visit. Get acquainted with the founder Karel Van Wijnendaele, and enjoy 100 years of history of the Tour of Flanders. Experience the heroism, feel the enthusiasm and sense the triumph and tragedy.
FOR BEER LOVERS:
Ghent Beer Walk
In Ghent, beer brewing went hand in hand with religious life. Discover Ghent and its surprising history during a three-hour beer walk and beer tasting with guide through the city. This is the perfect way to explore the beer abbeys and monasteries where some of the world’s best beers were created.
PHOTO: GENTSE GRUUT STADSBROUWERI
Gentse Gruut Stadsbrouwerij
A Ghentian highlight is Gruut. This brewery in the heart of the city brews with the newest of techniques, but following the classic traditions. Gruut replaces the traditional hops with a special, secret mix of herbs that brings a unique flavor to the glass.
PHOTOS: BROUWERIJ ROMAN (LEFT), LIEFMANS BREWERY (RIGHT)
World-famous Liefmans Brewery is located in Oudenaarde, 30 minutes from Ghent by train. The brewery was founded in 1679 and still exists today. The sour, reddish-brown cherry beer Goudenband is a much-praised classic that many connoisseurs love to cellar.
Brewery Roman is also located in Oudenaarde, in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes.
Roman is the oldest family brewery in Belgium and is famed for its vast range of beers. These are brewed in the traditional way, with attention to craftsmanship and a passion for beer that goes back nearly five centuries.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY:
Gent Jazz Festival
29 June to 8 July
The Ghent Jazz Festival is spread over two weekends, one weekend for the purebred jazz fans and, during the second weekend, there is room for more fusion artists. Since its first edition in 2001, when it was called Blue Note Festival, the festival has become loved among a great deal of people, and it now welcomes over 35,000 people each year.
After more than 160 years of existence, the Ghent Festivities have become one of the best festivals in Europe. Four international festivals take place there over a period of ten days, with free music on ten squares, children’s entertainment at various different locations in the city and hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities. This year, for the first time, the festival will start on Friday evening and end on Sunday evening.
The oldest quarter of Ghent organises its own mini Ghent festivities, displaying maximal atmosphere and ambiance. For fans of more intimate events.
Adriaen Brouwer retrospective exhibition
15 September to 16 December, MOU Museum Oudenaarde
A world-class painter, whose work hangs in the most prestigious museums: discover the art of Adriaen Brouwer. Many of his paintings will soon leave renowned private and public collections in Europe and America to travel to Oudenaarde. This is the very first time that just under half of his 70 works will be united. The fact that this event is also being organised in Brouwer’s birthplace makes it all the more special.
Film Fest Ghent
Every year, Ghent Film festival presents some 200 feature films and short films from around the globe. The festival enjoys an excellent international reputation and is quite unique in focusing on the impact of music on film. The International Film Festival of Flanders Ghent is also the organiser and driving force behind the World Soundtrack Academy. The awards ceremony is inevitably the high point of the festival. Every year, the festival also organises concerts of film music and exhibitions which have a link with film.
Start planning your trip to East Flanders now, at www.visitflanders.com.
TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTOS © VISIT FLANDERS
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