Ghent is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province, and the third largest in the country, exceeded in size only by Brussels and Antwerp. It is a port and university city. The city originally started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300.
Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is a carfree area. Highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent has established a blend between comfort of living and history; it is not a city-museum. The city of Ghent also houses three béguinages and numerous churches including Saint-Jacob's church, Saint-Nicolas' church, Saint Michael's church and St. Stefanus.
This city is famous for its large marketplaces and public squares. A large student population and numerous festivals make it a vibrant city. Moreover, the festivities attract over 1.3 million visitors annually.
The city has been nicknamed “Medieval Manhattan” because three monuments are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The “creative city of music” is another UNESCO recognition bestowed on the city because it hosts numerous musical activities.