People from other countries also find the rows of façades in Ghent's old town stunning
Five thousand respondents visiting the British architecture website Homedit.com selected Ghent as the fourth most beautiful city in the world. They were completely captivated by the magnificent rows of façades on the Graslei, the Korenlei and the Kraanlei along the River Leie, even though they were given a choice of pictures of traditional houses from no fewer than 40 cities worldwide.
The City Fathers of Ghent, which was the birthplace of the Flemish statesman and political leader Jacob van Artevelde, are delighted and are justifiably proud of this accolade of course.
From the 11th to the 18th century, the "Leien" formed the heart of the medieval port. There, and in a number of adjacent streets and squares, it was busier than you could possibly imagine. The grain trade – the people of Ghent had the staple right for grain – was flourishing. The rich trading houses, guild halls, craft chambers and mansions bear witness to that era in the city's history. For the sake of honesty, we should also say that from the 18th century onwards, when decay set in, some of those buildings were demolished, altered or externally rendered, but from the beginning of the 20th century onwards, they were thoroughly restored around their historic core or rebuilt according to preserved drawings from the first half of the 19th century.