Ghent The Essential
The spiritual heart of Flanders, Belgium's second-largest port and a major industrial centre, Ghent also has a university, rendering it even more animated. At the confluence of the River Lys and the River Escaut, it is criss-crossed by canals and waterways. Birthplace of Emperor Charles V, the city is steeped in history, boasting numerous old buildings, districts and quays with a distinctly poetic atmosphere, best experienced by lamplight after dark. Famous sons include M Maeterlinck.