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Published: March 31st 2022
In Celtic times, Ghent was known as “Ganda” meaning confluence or river mouth. The name makes sense as Ghent was located at the confluence of the rivers Lys (Leie) and Scheldt with the River Kale or Dune to the North; right in the corner between the loamy and silty fertile farmland to the west, and the sandy moors and dense forests to the north and east. While in the south-west, a marshy riverine landscape crisscrossed by rivers, ditches, canals, and other waterways was suited to the cultivation of grain, the sandy moors came to offer a favourable pastoral landscape after the reclamation 1000 – 1300.
Ghent was powerful, well-organized in its wealthy trade guilds, and virtually independent until 1584. Within its walls was signed the Pacification of Ghent (1576), an attempt to unite the Lowlands provinces against Spain. The Treaty of Ghent (December 24, 1814) marked the end of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain.
In Ghent is a castle with a very turbulent past, closely intertwined with the complex—often stormy—political and social history of the city. It is the only remaining mediaeval castle with a moat and largely intact defence system in
In the late 18th century, the Castle of the Counts was sold to private owners who later converted it into a factory complex. In 1807, the fortress in the heart of Ghent housed a cotton mill, and its outbuildings served as primitive dwellings for about fifty families of workers. When the mill and its workers left, the Castle of the Counts was in a state of complete disrepair, ready for demolition.
By that point, the Castle of the Counts was a symbol of abuse of power, feudal repression, horrific torture methods and a cruel inquisition as far as the people of Ghent were concerned. Restoration gave the Castle of the Counts a new meaning and world fame as Ghent’s most important tourist sight, partly due to the World Expo 1913, which took place in Ghent.
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