Ghent 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. Ghent is Belgium's second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. Archaeological evidence shows human presence in the region of the confluence of Scheldt and Lys going back as far as the Stone Age and the Iron Age. Most historians believe that the older name for Ghent, 'Ganda', is derived from the Celtic word 'ganda' which means confluence. There are no written records of the Roman period but archaeological research confirms that the region of Ghent was further inhabited. Every year the ten-day-long "Ghent Festival" (Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held. About two million visitors attend every year.
St. Nicholas' Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent, Belgium. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church, construction continued through the rest of the century in the local Scheldt Gothic style (named after the nearby river). Typical of this style is the use of blue-gray stone from the Tournai area, the single large tower above the crossing, and the slender turrets at the building's corners. Built in the old trade center of Ghent next to the bustling Korenmarkt, St. Nicholas' Church was popular with the guilds whose members carried out their business nearby. The guilds had their own chapels which were added to the sides of the church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The central tower, which was funded in part by the city, served as an observation post and carried the town bells until the neighboring belfry of Ghent was built. These two towers, along with the Saint Bavo Cathedral, still define the famous medieval skyline of the city center. One of the treasures of the church is its organ, produced by the famous French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
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