After passing under the St. Elisabeth Gate, one entered the street of that name; bordered by the Ter Koole and Trap af house, from the old Akkerghem district, and, opposite them, by two types of modest 17th century Ghent dwellings in the Meerhem district; they adjoined the old and humble houses of the old ramparts of the Ghent Alexians.
At the end of this first street, the picturesque courtyard and the graceful chapel of the Alyns Hospice, a charming type of Ghent construction; this curious enclosure is an expiatory monument, built as a judicial reparation around 1360 and rebuilt in the 16th century; it still exists, but in a dilapidated state that requires intelligent restoration.
Passing through the large gate next to Alyns' Hospital, one reached the main square, the centre of activity in the little town.
Oh! How picturesque and restful was this old market in miniature, with all its gables from Nieuwpoort, Diksmuide, Ypres, Tournai, Audenaerde, Kortrijk, Ghent, Wichelen, Fûmes, the belfry of Bethune, the Nieuwwerk of Ypres which housed the restaurant; At the corner of the market, the pretty façade of the Bailliage of Aire-sur-Lys, built in 1600 and bearing bas-reliefs of the theological and cardinal virtues, stood.
In the centre of the south side of the Market, the Theatre reproduced a fragment of the painting by François Du Chastel, which is in the possession of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent; it recalls the inauguration ceremony of Charles II, King of Spain as Count of Flanders, at the Friday market in Ghent. This huge painting was included in the retrospective of "Old Art in Flanders".
The Rue des Poteaux, lined with houses with galleries, led to a postern, imitating the entrance to the castle of Laerne; it served as the entrance to Old Flanders on the Kortrijk side.
Through the impasse du Verger, one reached the canal and the Quai des Quatre-Métiers. Ten metres wide and one hundred and seventy metres long, the canal was a picturesque feature of Old Flanders.
Via the Sun Bridge and the houses of Hulst and Axel, one reached the Zeeland part of the town; there stood a Vlissingen estaminet not far from the Sluisbrug and the quay wall with the Campvursche Toren of the island of Walcheren; in this picturesque corner stood, near the Waterstraatje, a nice type of Middelburg building, another one of Vlissingen and the beautiful 16th century arched facade in Goes.
In the centre of the Minnemeersch, in the middle of an orchard, an octagonal aedicule reproducing the Groote put van Verre (1551), served as a kiosk; the back of the orchard was bordered by the Doelen of the Crossbowmen of St. George; this gilde occupied the beautiful neighbouring house, the Lammeken, one of the most harmonious buildings in Veere, with its stepped gable, pinnacles and window spandrels.
The current Gilde des Arbalétriers de Saint-Georges is related to the old Ghent Gilde; most of its members are heads of artistic workshops or craftsmen, architects and painters. Under the valiant leadership of their leader, Mr. Frans Coppejans, both an artist and an erudite archaeologist, the confreres of Saint-Georges had decorated their Lammeken premises with an artistic sense to which lovers of art and the picturesque have been pleased to pay tribute. They were welcoming, the confreres of Saint-Georges; they were also good companions; they responded with joy to the call addressed to them by their big sister, the Royal and Knightly Confraternity of Saint-Michel, to celebrate its tercentenary. Messrs J. Leirens and A. Feyerick, the chief dean and dean of the jubilee society, did not appeal in vain to the comrades of Saint George. We were pleased to point out the fact and to recall the important part taken in Old Flanders and in the procession of Saint Michael, by the valiant brotherhood of our friends, the craftsmen of Ghent.
Near the St. George's premises, a door separated the Zeeland quarter from the Quai des Bateliers. The illusion was complete; one thought of one of the pretty quays of Bruges, at the sight of these façades borrowed from the Marché au Fil, the Rue des Ciseaux, the Rue de l'Ane Aveugle, the Quai des Teinturiers and the Quai Vert of the picturesque city.
The Waasland was represented by a Thames façade from 1617, another from Lokeren and a fragment of Walburg Castle in Sint-Niklaas, a mixture of Flemish and Brabant style. Nearby were Ghent houses built around the middle of the 16th century, as well as the beautiful Palfyn House.
On the Egmont quay, the Fish Market imitated from the Mechelen minque, the old Egmont manor in Sottegem, preceded the houses of Dendermonde, among which the graceful little façade of the beguinage.
We have just briefly visited the little town under the guidance of Mr. Victor Fris, whose excellent guide to Old Flanders is the best souvenir, together with the beautiful album of flags by Mr. René De Cramer.
The pretty city that some daring friends of Flanders dreamed of reconstructing for the joy of lovers of the picturesque has disappeared on a day of patriotic pride.
It was in Old Flanders that the marvellous procession of the Tricentenary of the Brotherhood of Saint Michael took place (an unforgettable memory) and broke up. What more picturesque and real setting could one dream of for this evocation and the pomp of the old processions than the square, the streets and the quays of the Villette, all steeped in past memories.
This magical vision allowed us to relive, for a few hours, the phases of a luminous page of history drawn from the sources of a learned documentation.
Ghent owes a large and generous debt of gratitude to all those who cooperated in this work, to those who conceived it as well as those who executed it, to the committee of Old Flanders as well as to the directors of the Exhibition who encouraged and cooperated extensively in its elaboration.
Old Flanders was one of the "nails" in the coffin of the Ghent World Fair; it will live on in the memory of all those who had the joy of visiting it and of communing with the past of the homeland.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle & Internationale de Gand 1913