17 May ’04, Monday. Gant or Ghant or Gand…. Your choice. The weather has really been outstanding for the last 4 days and it looks like it will continue for a while yet. Before getting out of Oostende, we had one more stop that we wanted to make. “Fort Napoleon”.
Napoleon built this fort as defense against a possible attack and invasion from England. This invasion never came, and the fort was completed only upon the fall of Napoleon in 1814. This fort was used by the German military during WWI and II. There are deep “Pill Boxes”,
tunnels, sleeping quarters, and heavy gun attachments all along the shoreline and surrounding “Fort Napoleon”.
It kind of gives you a strange feeling walking over and around all of them knowing just how they were used . Our ride to Gant was easy and only took about an hour or just a little less. It is amazing the little distances between the cities that we have all heard or read about. If this were just the state of Washington our drive today would have been like driving from Seattle to Everett when the freeways were clear enough for a straight through drive. We have experienced very little heavy traffic on the main roads or even the city or town thoroughfares. As we pulled into the campgrounds we found that this campground would be quite different as well. We are about a 45 minute walk into Gant Centro. Also on the grounds here is a lake, ski hill (plastic surfaced mountain), many tennis courts, walking and jogging trails, full restaurant, grocery store and over 200 campsites that each are divided by a 5’ hedge and are quite large. We have as much privacy as anyone would possibly want. I really can’t tell you how much we are enjoying ourselves. Because it was quite warm and we weren’t too sure just how far it was into Gant we decided to catch the bus that stops right outside the gate. As we arrived in Gant we were really impressed by what was all around us. Each and every town and city that we have had a chance to visit have impressed us and this one certainly didn’t let us down. Our first choice was to visit St Bavo’s Cathedral.
A beautiful cathedral combining Romanesque, High Gothic and Late Gothic architecture. I remember reading the journal of Bruce and Peg on their trip through Europe and one thing that Peg had mentioned a number of times was just how dirty the very old buildings were from all the pollution…they are, from a dirty gray to black. It is very sad, but I guess we have to remember just how long they have been exposed. None the less, they leave you in a state of awe. As we stepped inside the cathedral, Louise and I both gasped. Saint Baafskahedrall is really a beautiful and stately piece to behold. Construction was started in 1228 and it wasn’t completed until the 17th Century. As they say, “It is one of the 7 wonders of Belgium”. It has it’s own fine art collection to view but, since they are remodeling the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, they have been given a nice collection on loan that is displayed in “The Crypt at St. Bavo’s “. I really felt that this was one of the greatest display areas that we have had a chance to view fine art. One thing that could have been a little enhanced was the lighting but, this was “The Crypt” and not a gallery. This crypt was in fact the original church, and now everything that is “The Cathedral” is built on top of it. The walls of the Crypt were painted with religious scenes of the early church.
The brick walls were covered with a limestone mix and then painted with these beautiful scenes. One particular painting that caught and has held my attention is “Christ Carrying The Cross” by Hieronymus Bosch c. 1450-1516. If you can look it up on the web I would like your comments…. We had 2 hours left to get to “The Castle of the Counts” and see it before it closed.
This medieval fortress was built in 1180 by Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders. It seems strange to have a castle like this one smack dab in the middle of town but there it is, moat and all.