Ghent is 34 miles northwest of Brussels, 130 miles southeast of Amsterdam and 178 miles northeast of Paris. It is the third largest city in Belgium. In the 15th and 16th centuries Ghent was a great commercial center specializing in textiles. Much of the original architecture from that time remains and is in beautiful condition, especially along the two major canals in city center, the Graslei and the Korenlei. Today Ghent is an industrial center and an inland port. A major Belgian University also is located here and, as a result there usually are young people everywhere, especially sitting along the banks of the canals and in the many sidewalk cafes near the canals.
The city boasts several imposing churches, St. Michael's and St. Nicholas, among others, and one very old Cathedral, St. Baaf’s which houses a masterpiece of the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb". There is also a grand castle which can be toured, the Gravenstein. Among other things from medieval times it also has a more "modern" guillotine and a section of its museum displaying instruments of torture.