Bridge of Imperial Delights Ghent
A bridge full of legends
The year 2000 was the Imperial Charles Year. In that year, the Bridge of Imperial Delights was built in Ghent over the river Lieve. Walter de Buck designed sculptures for the bridge, each of which refers to a legend about the life of Charles V. The bridge is also popularly called the ‘Bridge with the cauliflowers’ or the ‘Bridge with the shrimp bulbs’ (krimbol is the Ghent word for ice on a horn), because the statues are somewhat reminiscent of these shapes.
The Four Legends
At the Bridge of Imperial Delights are four statues, each depicting a different legend. On the side of the Sint Antoniuskaai it concerns “de Scheeptrekker” and “Mooi Veerle” and on the side of the Zilverhof you see “Janneke” and “Evil Beth”.
“De Scheepstrekker” is about a barge skipper who dares to scold the emperor for running away and for eating cheese and butter on one slice of bread. Instead of punishment, Emperor Charles gives him a new boat. The statue is also easily identified by the boat.
“Beautiful Veerle” is about a girl with whom the young Emperor Charles was in love. However, her father did not approve and she was disowned. Karel and Veerle’s son was taken from the mother and raised elsewhere. On the statue you see two intimately kissing people on one side and their son on the other.
“Janneke” refers to a girl with whom Charles V spent the nights during the siege of Tournai. Together with her he also had a daughter, who would go down in history as Margaret of Parma. The statue shows Karel and Janneke in a close embrace, with Janneke’s father on the loom above.
“Evil Beth” is about a young innkeeper who scolded everyone, especially her servant Tone, all day long. When Emperor Charles stays in the inn, she does not recognize him as the emperor and he is also called names. Tone tells the emperor that his boss doesn’t mean anything about the words. When the emperor and his entourage return to the inn a few days later, Beth begs forgiveness for her evil words. Emperor Charles does not punish her, but obliges her to marry Tone. It then turns out that Beth Tone has been insulting all this time for not being able to express her love. The statue shows Emperor Charles as a rider, while Beth and Tone are standing next to him.
Take your time for the details
The Bridge of Imperial Delights is a lot of fun to watch. Take the time to take in the details of the statues. Especially if you know the legends behind it, a visit to the bridge is definitely recommended.