Gent

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Gent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. Today it is a busy city with a port and a university.

On my postcard you could see the Gravensteen (in the middle) – a castle originating from the Middle Ages. The name means “castle of the count” in Dutch. The present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modeled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. The castle was then used as a courthouse, a prison and eventually decayed. Houses were built against the walls and even on the courtyard and the stones of the walls were used to erect other buildings. At one time it even served as a factory. At the end of the 19th century, the castle was scheduled to be demolished. In 1885 the city of Gent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls and dungeon were restored to their original condition.

This card came from Mieke. 🙂

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Lille – Vieille Bourse

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I received this postcard from Lille from the Dudu familiy via Postcrossing. 🙂

It pictures Vieille Bourse, the old stock exchange. It was built by Julien Destrée in 1653 whose commission was to build an exchange to ‘rival that of any great city’. It was also a commission motivated greatly by the persistent ill-health of the Lillois bankers and merchants. Trading had always taken place in the unprotected open air at the Fontaine-au-Change on the Place du Vieux-Marché in all types of weather. As a result the bankers endured regular bouts of flu and colds. By 1651 they had had enough and took their wheezy deputation to the Magistrate. The Magistrate, in sympathy with their cause, put in an application to Philip IV, King of Spain and the Count of Flanders, for a more suitable stock exchange. The result is a quandrangle of 24 privately purchased, ornately decorated yet identical houses surrounding an interior rectangular courtyard where trading could take place. Access into the courtyard is through any one of the four arches located at each of the four sides.