Gent-Sint-Pieters Railway Station
Armed with a pedometer, you begin the walk at Gent-Sint-Pieters station. In front of the main entrance, you immediately see Koningin Maria-Hendrikaplein square. The 60 plane trees in concentric circles are now a century old and have been listed. They also come in handy as gigantic bicycle umbrellas.
If you take Clementinalaan, you will walk in the direction of the Millionaires’ Quarter. This was the site of the 1913 World's Fair. As one of the few remnants of this major event, you can still find the former cour d'honneur which is now a park. The impressive sculpture of the horse Bayard and the four sons of Aymon also dates from that period.
Citadelpark owes its name to the citadel that was built here under Dutch rule. When the citadel was demolished, the decision was made to lay out an English landscape park on this site. Some elements of the fortress have been preserved. By covering the old casemates in stone and cement, a rock landscape with grottoes was created, as was the fashion in those days.
Ghent University Botanical Garden
Stroll through the park and beyond the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts to reach the University Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden was originally located in the city centre. Due to the pollution, it had to be relocated in the early twentieth century. The plant collection consists of no less than 10,000 species. The Victoria Greenhouse is the site’s centrepiece.
You will not find a lot of greenery on Sint-Pietersplein square. But don’t worry, you will come across a hidden oasis behind St Peter’s Abbey, on a slope facing the river Scheldt. Very popular among students, this former abbey garden features an orchard, herb garden and vineyard. The grapes grown here are used to make abbey wine. Invite yourself to one of the city’s receptions, and if you’re lucky, you will taste real Ghent wine!
Across the river, you will reach Muinkpark, the only remnant of Ghent’s zoo. The former Ghent zoo covered an area of slightly over 5 hectares, about half the size of the Antwerp zoo. All that is left is this small neighbourhood park with a duck pond as well as the street names in the surrounding area, which mostly refer to animals.
Koning Albertpark lies between two busy roads leading to and from the motorway. The park was laid out on the railway yard of the former Zuidstation station. After the station had been demolished, the park came in its place.
Astridpark is one of several parks in Belgium named after the former queen. You can see a statue of her on your left next to the entrance. After the Second World War, the city purchased Villa De Groote and its large garden. Take your time to admire the sculpture and the magnificent beech trees. If you exit the park on the other side, you will easily find your way to Rommelwaterpark. It owes its name to the Rommelwater canal, also known as Visserijvaart.
In Coyendanspark, you can see a hornbeam topiary in the shape of the floor plan of the destroyed abbey church. Next to this green church are the ruins of St Bavo’s Abbey to which the church belonged. In the enclosed garden of St Bavo’s Abbey, you will find lots of wild plants that are very rare in an urban environment. The vegetation is therefore protected.
Local residents can grow their own vegetables on Spaanskasteelplein. The vegetable garden is an initiative of a residents' association. Local school children have also been involved in the project and can exercise their green thumb.
Continue your walk along the water to Gent-Dampoort station and take the train to Gent-Sint-Pieters station. Or if you wish, you can retrace your steps and easily reach the target of 10,000 steps for this day.