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Gent History, Belgium

Gent is a popular historical city in Northern Belgium not far from Lille and Rotterdam Its immense historical importance is best preserved in the form of the great architecture of the old buildings existing since the city’s Middle Age.

Gent History - The First Inhabitants

The name of Gent comes from the Celtic word “ganda” meaning confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Lys. Archeological research proved that the Romans were once inhabitants of Ghent. The Franks invaded the region later and Old Dutch was the language next to Celtic and Latin. During the 7th century the city developed around the new built abbeys (The Saint Peter Abbey and the Saint Bavo’s Abbey) and a commercial centre. During the 9th century the city was attacked and destroyed by the Vikings. The reconstruction of the city started from the 11th century and went on till nowadays when visitors can notice that the ancient abbeys are real testimonies of the past.

Gent History - Famous Legends

Lovers of Gent history and legends are definitely interested in “King Arthur and the Knights of the Holy Grail” which proved to be related to the city of Gent where the Englishman Abbot Dunstan remained for 2 years and learnt the meaning of Benedictine rule he decided to introduce in his abbey too.

Historians also said that the Count of Flanders Filip van den Elzas and his famous court poet, Chretien de Troyes had made the legendary “King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table” famous even nowadays.

Gent History - Trade and Wool Industry

Another fact in Gent history is that during the Middle Ages it was the most important city in terms of cloths made of wool, which the city produced on a large scale but also imported from England. The wool industry in Gent continued to develop and so did the good relationship with England and with other European markets where the cloths made of wool were exported.

All this international success turned Gent into the most important centre in textile industry in the entire world.

The Religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries devastated the city which became Catholic after being a Calvinistic Republic.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Gent was one step ahead England by introducing the first mechanical weaving machine that proved to be a great asset for the textile industry.

The war of 1812 between Britain and the United States of America ended with a treaty signed at Gent in 1814 which was another important historical event for the city. Later on, it became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands for fifteen years once the battle of Waterloo ended. It was a proper time for a local university (1817) to be founded and a new connection to the sea to be established (1824-1827) with great consequences on the trade with other countries.

Unfortunately, the Belgian Revolution brought a decay again and made Gent lose the important port access to the sea for more than 10 years, an event that negatively affected its economy.

Gent History - The Modern Development of the 19th Century

1830 proved to bring the true change that the people of the city expected for so long. Gent developed enormously thanks to the industry, the mechanization of public transport, the reconstruction and restoration of the most important historical monuments and buildings among which Belfry, the Cloth Hall, The Counts Castle are places that no one should miss when going to Gent or referring to Gent history.

The World Exhibition of 1913 succeeded in bringing into the city spectacles, music shows and silent films as they could be seen in all the big cities of Europe. With a new train station (1912) and 15 new hotels, Gent prepared itself for tourists and it does the same thing even nowadays.

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