From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Interesting highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent established a nice blend between comfort of living and history – it is not a city-museum. The city of Ghent houses also three béguinages and numerous churches, among which the Saint-Jacobs church and the Saint-Nicolas Church are the most beautiful examples.
In the nineteenth century Ghent's most famous architect, Louis Roelandt, built the university hall Aula, the opera and the main courthouse. Highlights of modern architecture are the university buildings (the Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde. There are also a few theatres from diverse periods.
Important museums in Ghent are the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts), with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Jean Fouquet, and many Flemish masters; the SMAK or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (City Museum for Contemporary Art), with works of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys and Panamarenko; and the Designmuseum. The Huis van Alijn (House of the Alijn family) was originally a beguinage and is now a museum for folk art. This museum often presents theatre and puppet shows for children. There is also a museum presenting the industrial strength of Ghent, the Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel or MIAT. Here you can find recreations of workshops and stores from the 1800s and can see the spinning and weaving machines that remain in this building what was once a weaving mill.