Ghent is without doubt one of the most beautiful historic cities in Europe and was given several pretty names: historic heart of Flanders, a city of all times, medieval Manhattan, Europe’s best kept secret and received some international tourist nominations. In 2008 National Geographic Traveler Magazine ranked Ghent third in its list of 109 most authentic destinations. In the 2011 edition of the Lonely Planet’s ’Best in Travel’ guide, Ghent took the 7th place on the list of must-see cities. The city was founded in the 7th Century, on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Lys, and called ‘Ganda’. During the Middle Ages, Ghent was a leading town, a metropolis, the largest city north of the Alps, after Paris, and larger than London and Cologne. Under the French domination, the city lived stirring times, but in the 19th century, when Ghent came under Dutch rule, the economy flourished again and Ghent developed into a modern city. Nowhere else can you find so much history per square metre as in the beautifully renovated and fully pedestrianised historic city centre. Three grand medieval towers form the city’s unique skyline. The Castle of the Counts’ impressive walls and merlons let your imagination run wild. The adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers is only one of the many art treasures in the St Bavo’s Cathedral. The Belfry and the beguinages, tranquil oases of peace, are classified as world heritage sites by Unesco. Old or new masters. Antiques or design. The life of the cleric, the industrialist or the common man. A visit to the city is not complete without seeing at least one of the important and original museums of Ghent such as the Ghent City Museum (STAM), the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art (S.M.A.K.), the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK), the Design museum Gent and the Museum about Industry, Labour and Textile (MIAT). Water plays a key role in Ghent. During the Middle Ages, the port at the Graslei and Korenlei formed the story of the incredible blossoming of Ghent’s economy. Today, the City Council makes considerable efforts to attract new visitors by developing water tourism which resulted amongst others in the Portus Ganda marina. Nowadays, the port of Ghent is one of Belgium’s largest ports. In Ghent culture is a feast and feasting is a form of culture. One of Ghent’s trump card is its festivals. Festivals that attract people from all over the world, such as the Ghent Festivities, Gent Jazz Festival, Ghent Festival of Flanders and the Film Fest Gent with the World Soundtrack Awards. Ghent also has important players in the field of musical theatre, opera and musicals. For more than 200 years, the city has hosted the Ghent Floralies. This unique five-yearly flower and plant exhibition shows the skills of ornamental gardeners, international florists and landscape gardeners. And every three years the Light Festival fills everyone with wonder. With over 75.000 students, Ghent is the largest university town in Flanders. The presence of this young population leaves a dynamic mark on the city and this surely adds to the lively atmosphere that Ghent exudes. The Ghent University has an international reputation and is a preferred university for prominent scientists.