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Ghent is without doubt one of the most beautiful historic cities in Europe and was given several pretty names: historic heart of Flanders, a city of all times, medieval Manhattan, Europe’s best kept secret and received some international tourist nominations. In 2008 National Geographic Traveler Magazine ranked Ghent third in its list of 109 most authentic destinations. In the 2011 edition of the Lonely Planet’s ’Best in Travel’ guide, Ghent took the 7th place on the list of must-see cities. The city was founded in the 7th Century, on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Lys, and called ‘Ganda’. During the Middle Ages, Ghent was a leading town, a metropolis, the largest city north of the Alps, after Paris, and larger than London and Cologne. Under the French domination, the city lived stirring times, but in the 19th century, when Ghent came under Dutch rule, the economy flourished again and Ghent developed into a modern city. Nowhere else can you find so much history per square metre as in the beautifully renovated and fully pedestrianised historic city centre. Three grand medieval towers form the city’s unique skyline. The Castle of the Counts’ impressive walls and merlons let your imagination run wild. The adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers is only one of the many art treasures in the St Bavo’s Cathedral. The Belfry and the beguinages, tranquil oases of peace, are classified as world heritage sites by Unesco. Old or new masters. Antiques or design. The life of the cleric, the industrialist or the common man. A visit to the city is not complete without seeing at least one of the important and original museums of Ghent such as the Ghent City Museum (STAM), the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art (S.M.A.K.), the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK), the Design museum Gent and the Museum about Industry, Labour and Textile (MIAT). Water plays a key role in Ghent. During the Middle Ages, the port at the Graslei and Korenlei formed the story of the incredible blossoming of Ghent’s economy. Today, the City Council makes considerable efforts to attract new visitors by developing water tourism which resulted amongst others in the Portus Ganda marina. Nowadays, the port of Ghent is one of Belgium’s largest ports. In Ghent culture is a feast and feasting is a form of culture. One of Ghent’s trump card is its festivals. Festivals that attract people from all over the world, such as the Ghent Festivities, Gent Jazz Festival, Ghent Festival of Flanders and the Film Fest Gent with the World Soundtrack Awards. Ghent also has important players in the field of musical theatre, opera and musicals. For more than 200 years, the city has hosted the Ghent Floralies. This unique five-yearly flower and plant exhibition shows the skills of ornamental gardeners, international florists and landscape gardeners. And every three years the Light Festival fills everyone with wonder. With over 75.000 students, Ghent is the largest university town in Flanders. The presence of this young population leaves a dynamic mark on the city and this surely adds to the lively atmosphere that Ghent exudes. The Ghent University has an international reputation and is a preferred university for prominent scientists.
Top 10 things to do in Ghent Ghent has to be not just seen but experienced. Take your time, get lost in the historic centre, explore the museums, enjoy our culinary talent and throw yourself into the bustling nightlife. Below are 10 tips on what to see and do. But this is just the beginning: Discovering Ghent means this and so much more!
The Castle of the Counts

The Castle of the Counts

Visit the knights at the castle A weekend trip to Ghent is simply not complete without a visit to the mysterious ‘Castle of the Counts’. This important sight in Ghent is a castle with a very turbulent past, closely intertwined with the complex—often stormy—political and social history of the city. It is the only remaining mediaeval castle with a moat and largely intact defence system in Flanders. Your visit to the Castle of the Counts will give you a complete picture of heraldic culture in the 12th century. The gatehouse, ramparts, keep, count’s residence and stables are open to visitors. Torture at the Castle of the Counts Be sure to go up the long spiral staircase to the museum of torture devices on the top floor of the Castle of the Counts. Here, you will find a unique collection of instruments for torture and coercion, as well as a collection of weapons. The Castle of the Counts also hosts all kinds of cultural activities, events and activities, for example during the Ghent Festivities. It is also a popular place to get married for Ghent’s locals. Let’s not forget the time the Castle of the Counts was occupied by protesting students in 1949! Explore the castle during your weekend trip in Ghent and find out all about the ‘Battle of the Castle of the Counts’. The keep, symbol of the Counts’ power Go back in time inside this majestic fortress. Its history goes back to the time of the Roman occupation, when there was already a settlement on a sand bank by the River Lys. After a brief period of Viking plundering, the Counts of Flanders converted the earlier wooden constructions into a keep (living quarters) in the Middle Ages, with ramparts built entirely of stone, replete with 24 towers. The imposing building with its military architecture was a symbol of the Counts’ power in the turbulent city of Ghent. Count Philip and his castle: dominating the city Count Philip of Alsace wanted everyone to know that he was the boss. A Latin inscription above the entrance states that Count Philip (1168-1191) built the castle in 1180. The sense of wealth and power that his castle gave him is brought to life when you stand between the battlements at the top of the keep and gaze out over the vibrant city of Ghent. Industrial revolution banishes knights from Ghent You are bound to be fascinated by the twists and turns in the story of the Castle of the Counts during your weekend getaway. In the late 18th century, the Castle of the Counts was sold to private owners who later converted it into a factory complex. In 1807, the fortress in the heart of Ghent housed a cotton mill, and its outbuildings served as primitive dwellings for about fifty families of workers. When the mill and its workers left, the Castle of the Counts was in a state of complete disrepair, ready for demolition. Torture chamber becomes tourist sight in Ghent By that point, the Castle of the Counts was a symbol of abuse of power, feudal repression, horrific torture methods and a cruel inquisition as far as the people of Ghent were concerned. Restoration gave the Castle of the Counts a new meaning and world fame as Ghent’s most important tourist sight, partly due to the World Expo 1913, which took place in Ghent. Visit the Castle of the Counts in Ghent Do you want to dig deep into the history of Ghent? This is where you need to be. Ghent, full of charming history and modern vibrancy.

The Mystic Lamb: supreme divine art

The Mystic Lamb: supreme divine art

World-famous painting by Flemish Primitives The Mystic Lamb, or ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers, completed in 1432, is recognised worldwide as a great work of art, and one of the most influential paintings ever made. It is an absolute must-see on your weekend break to Ghent. A total of 18 panels form a magical evocation of scenes from the Bible, as well as a portrait of the church warden, Joos Vijd, who commissioned the altarpiece, and his wife Elisabeth Borluut. “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is probably the most influential painting ever made, and it is also the most often stolen work of art in history!” Noah Charney Inner glow, microscopic craftsmanship The monumental Mystic Lamb was painted on oak panels covered in thin layers of a mixture of chalk and animal glue. The figures were applied in several layers of oil paint. The combination of the painstaking work and transparent paint creates an extra dimension. Discover it for yourself as you stand in front of this masterpiece. You will see that an inner glow seems to radiate from the painting: the light of the divine. Religious art by the Van Eyck brothers in Ghent Hubert van Eyck painted part of the Ghent Altarpiece that includes the Mystic Lamb, but was never able to finish it. His younger brother Jan, an absolute master of the art of painting, is said to have finished this masterpiece a few years after Hubert’s death. Daring theft of panels of the Mystic Lamb On the morning of 11 April 1934, Ghent woke up to news of a disaster. Two panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, ‘The Just Judges’ and ‘John the Baptist’ had been stolen from St Bavo’s Cathedral! This daring theft has grown to become one of the most fascinating art robberies of the 20th century. It remains unsolved. Later the ‘John the Baptist’ panel was returned anonymously, but ‘The Just Judges’ is still lost without trace. Today you can find the Mystic Lamb where it belongs: in St Bavo’s Cathedral. Admittedly there is still a reproduction in the place of the stolen panel, ‘The Just Judges’. Whether or not the missing panel is ever found, this theft has given rise to all sorts of exciting stories and mysterious conspiracy theories. Head to Ghent city museum, STAM, for a spot of detective work to track down the world-famous missing panel, ‘The Just Judges’. The Mystic Lamb: devoted restoration This world-famous masterpiece by the Van Eyck Brothers in Ghent has been restored many times in the past. It has been undergoing thorough restoration and conservation work since 2012. During its turbulent history, the Mystic Lamb has survived transportation, changes in temperature and humidity, horrifying attacks with a saw and fire damage. Contemplate the intensive renovation work on this religious masterpiece right before your eyes in the MSK. Stand behind bulletproof glass to watch 11 international restorers removing layers of varnish and later additions and touching up blemishes with paintbrushes. Unique and unbelievably fascinating! Does The Mystic Lamb make you want more? You’re in luck, because once a month the restoration team gives a talk on the restoration of this masterpiece. Adore the Lamb Here’s a fascinating fact: The Mystic Lamb was rescued in 1945 by the famous ‘Monuments Men’. The Mystic Lamb was welcomed home like a king by the ecstatic people of Ghent, who lined the streets in a respectful guard of honour. There is a film of the amazing story of the Monuments Men, American art commandos who brought confiscated art back to where it belonged. The film, ‘The Monuments Men’, begins in St Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent. The people of Ghent adore the Mystic Lamb, and rightfully so, but they also have a sense of humour. You can see proof of this in this spoof video about the Mystic Lamb. Heavenly graffiti in Ghent Discover the graffiti version of the Mystic Lamb in Ghent during your city trip as well! When ‘The Monuments Men’ came out in the cinema, graffiti artist Bart Smeets spray-painted a huge mural on the side of the house on the corner of Van Stopenberghestraat, near St Bavo’s Cathedral. The film producer, 20th Century Fox, was looking for a contemporary way to draw attention to ‘The Monuments Men’. The city of Ghent welcomed this new painting with open arms as an ongoing promotion for the Mystic Lamb that plays a prominent role in the film. Enchanted by the Mystic Lamb? Does The Mystic Lamb make you want more? During your weekend getaway to Ghent, enjoy a guided walking tour around the city of Ghent. The Province of East Flanders and the guides’ associations also adore the altarpiece and offer city walks in Ghent on the theme of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. The Mystic Lamb online: Ghent goes digital Follow Visit Ghent on Facebook and Instagram and stay up-to-date with the latest news about the Mystic Lamb and get golden tips to make your weekend trip to Ghent even more exciting. Try Ghent: historic charm and modern-day excitement.

History on the Graslei and Korenlei

History on the Graslei and Korenlei

Ghent’s beauty mirrored in the Lys Ships have been docking here since the 11th century and Ghent wouldn’t have it any other way. It is like the song of the Lorelei. The beauty of the Graslei in Ghent brings everyone and everything to a standstill. This is the place where beautiful façades are reflected in the River Lys. Tourists and residents alike relax on either side of the water, whether dangling their legs over the quay, or sitting comfortably at a café terrace. Lovely Grasbrug This bridge is positively poetic. And it’s every Ghent native’s pride. On your visit to Ghent, it would be a sin to miss this little bridge just around the corner from the Korenmarkt. Cross the river at the Grasbrug and soak in the scenery. There are still boats moored at the quays today. Even better, nowadays you can take a boat ride yourself! There’s nothing that will immerse you more in the history of Ghent. Façades on the Graslei The houses by the water live and breathe history. The Cooremetershuys is now an accessory store. In the Middle Ages, however, the official corn measurer presided over the grain trade there. Have a good look at the completely restored façade of the Guild House of the Free Sailors as well. A lot of money has been invested in this building over the centuries, and it shows! The stately stepped gable from the old corn store has been watching over the town since the 13th century. Taste the romance The corn store—also known as ’t spijker—has been converted into the gastronomic restaurant Belga Queen. It’s come a long way from those old sacks of grain. Of course you don’t have to push the boat out quite that far. You can also try a cosy brasserie on the Graslei or Korenlei. Or why not just buy finger food and sit down on the quayside! Because sometimes, appreciating the little things is the most romantic. Aperitif in the sun Tempted by all those café terraces? There is nothing more blissful than enjoying an aperitif—or two—by the waterside. When the sun is shining, this is a delightful spot to hang out ensconced by beautiful old buildings. Enjoying the first warmth of a spring day with a chilled white wine, putting the world to rights…but anyway, we digress.

Old St Elizabeth Beguinage

Old St Elizabeth Beguinage

Beguine city in Ghent: a tolerant ‘holy corner’ The beguinages of Flanders and the Netherlands are always oases of calm and stillness, where you might still expect to see an old beguine mumbling her prayers in a doorway. Two of Ghent’s three beguinages have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Although the Old St Elizabeth Beguinage, in Begijnhofdries in Ghent, is no longer enclosed by a wall, making it simply part of the city, it still has a unique atmosphere. Today the Old St Elizabeth Beguinage is known as ‘holy corner’, a place of religious tolerance, because it has no less than three different churches: one is Roman Catholic, one is Orthodox and the other is Protestant. From bleachfield to orchard This open beguinage grew into something of a ‘beguine city’ in the 13th century, with a church, the ‘Grootjuffer’s House’, an infirmary, a chapel, more than a hundred houses for beguines, a bleachfield (a field where linen was laid out to bleach) and an orchard. After the French Revolution, with increasing industrialisation, the inhabitants moved to their new beguinage in Sint-Amandsberg in 1873. The new Orthodox church in Sophie Van Akenstraat is a striking sight in Ghent. A visit here is more than worthwhile. Inside, the church is painted with frescos using the authentic Byzantine technique. The façade depicts the Twelve Apostles with mosaics in rounded niches. Heavenly art on façades in Ghent Do you want to see more of this colourful façade art during your city trip? You will find another gorgeous mosaic on the façade of the Royal Dutch Theatre on Sint-Baafsplein. Apollo, the Roman god of music and joy, is represented with his muses: song, dance and music. Ghent is full of historic charm and captivating interest.

Ghent Belfry, world heritage

Ghent Belfry, world heritage

The dragon, Ghent’s fiery mascot Look up at the magical city skyline for a moment during your weekend trip in Ghent: you can’t miss it. The Belfry is the middle tower in the famous row of three, between St Bavo’s Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church. A fiery dragon, the proud symbol and mascot of Ghent, guards the historic heart of the city. The Ghent Belfry symbolises the city’s prosperity and independence. The Cloth Hall, built onto the Belfry, was completed in 1907. The flamboyant Brabant Gothic style of the Cloth Hall is an ode to the industry to which Ghent owes so much. On the corner of the Cloth Hall is an old jailer’s house. Ghent’s guardian angel and treasure keeper The Ghent Belfry, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage, is well worth a visit. In 1402, it was the place where city privileges were kept: in a chest, locked up in the Belfry safe. The dragon, which has been up on the tower since 1377, kept an eye on the city as well as being the symbolic guardian of the belfry. The Belfry also proudly carried the alarm bell, the ‘Great Triumphant’. Today you will find this bell, nicknamed ‘Roland’ by the people of Ghent, not far from the Belfort on Emile Braunplein. Until 1442, St Nicholas’ Church was the main watchtower. In 1442, the watchmen in the tower moved across to the newly completed Belfry. Along with the bell ringers, these watchmen, or the corps of ‘men who guard the city’, served until 1869. Fire was a particular danger in Ghent. The Belfry tower is an absolute must-see! Climb the stairs, listen to the chiming sound of the carillon and enjoy the view of the vibrant city of Ghent. There is a lift from the first floor. The stunning view over Ghent is bound to enchant you. However, the Belfry is not accessible to visitors with reduced mobility. The Mammelokker, a legend behind bars In 1741, a building was erected between the Belfry and the Cloth Hall, which served as the entrance to the city jail. You will see a relief sculpture above the entrance. The sculpture tells an old Roman legend of a man, Cimon, who was sentenced to death by starvation. He survived his sentence because his daughter visited every day and breastfed him. ‘Mamme’ means ‘breast’ and ‘lokken’ means ‘suck’ in an old Ghent dialect. The Belfort, great fun for little dragons Ghent wouldn’t be Ghent without children and young people, so Ghent Belfry also has plenty to offer little dragons. Here you will find activities for kids aged 6 to 18 years old. Kids up to the age of 100 are more than welcome here as well ;-). Child-friendly Ghent: have fun on your weekend trip with the whole family. Do you know about the city game with Fosfor the dragon as well?

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

Powerful Ghent church and home of the Mystic Lamb This magnificent sight on Sint-Baafsplein in Ghent is a proud old lady: don’t just walk past her on your city trip. St Bavo’s Cathedral is the oldest parish church in the lively heart of Ghent. It stands on the site of a 10th century church and a 12th century Romanesque church. The latter was dedicated to St John the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was a rich and powerful city that had the means to commission ever-larger and more opulent churches. So the Church of St John the Baptist was converted during the 15th and 16th centuries into the imposing Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral. A history of rebellion: from church to cathedral Looking for a weekend getaway that is just that little bit different? Do you like to explore off the beaten track? Welcome to Ghent, the city of rebels! St Bavo’s Cathedral literally carries Ghent’s rebellious history in its very stones. In the crypt, the Romanesque style can still be seen in the central nave. In the 15th century, it was decided that the Romanesque structure would be replaced with a larger Gothic church that was completed in 1559. In 1540, the church became the seat of the Chapter of St Bavo, and St Bavo became the patron saint of the church. Later, in 1559, the church was converted into the cathedral of the Bishops of Ghent. Bursting with riches: Ghent’s art treasures St Bavo’s Cathedral has a rich history and it is also filled with art treasures that make many an art-lover’s mouth water: from the baroque high altar in white, black and red flamed marble, the Rococo pulpit in oak, gilded wood and marble, to a masterpiece by Rubens: Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent, and the Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, the Gothic chandelier/sanctuary lamp, the opulent tombs of the Bishops of Ghent – and of course the world-famous Mystic Lamb. Admire the divine glow of ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo’s Cathedral. Read all about this famous work by the Flemish Primitives. Do you want to visit the Mystic Lamb? Find out the opening hours of the chapel where the Mystic Lamb is on display at St Bavo’s Cathedral. Fascinating fact about the Mystic Lamb: So that you have a chance to admire all the panels of the Ghent Altarpiece in all their glory, the outer panels of this masterpiece by Van Eyck are folded inwards every day between 12.00 and 13.00. Admission tickets for this chapel are sold until about 15 minutes before closing time. Souvenirs galore: the cathedral shop Of course you want memories to take home with you that are as beautiful as the cathedral itself. Pop into the cathedral gift shop for postcards, art books, posters etc. ‘Festive’ view of the city of Ghent You can only go up the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral during the Ghent Festivities. Negotiate the stairs and enjoy the magnificent view of this unique party for the people in the heart of Ghent. At other times of the year, you can enjoy the most beautiful view of Ghent from directly beneath the golden dragon, Ghent’s mascot, on the Belfry tower opposite. From there you can continue exploring the heart of Ghent. Anything goes.

Magical Ghent in the evening

Magical Ghent in the evening

See Ghent in a whole different light As evening falls, the daylight in Ghent does not simply make way for the streetlights. There is light art to enjoy as well. Streets, squares and buildings are covered in an artistic light display. It is almost as though the city were getting dressed up for the theatre. The effect is awe-inspiring. Discover Ghent Alight and immerse yourself in this de-light-ful evening experience! Ghent’s award-winning light plan The Ghent Light Plan was first designed in 1998. The idea was to provide sustainable lighting for the city without wasting energy. But at the same time, it has transformed the centre of Ghent into a magical nocturnal landscape of light and shadow. Architectural accents, streets, monuments and squares are lit up to display them at their best. Ghent is a leading light in combining environmentally conscious lighting with beauty. Let the play of atmospheric lights spark your imagination. Rediscover the city by night in a whole different way. The city has received many prizes and international acclaim for its pioneering role in integrated city lighting and illumination. Walk on light Would you like a sparkling tour of Ghent’s most beautiful illuminated buildings and squares? Follow the light walk and discover it for yourself! Start at the Kouter for a walk of approximately three miles. The walk takes you past all the highlights of the Ghent illuminations. You will need about two hours to complete the entire walk. It’s best not to start too late, because at the stroke of midnight, the atmospheric lighting is replaced by ordinary streetlights. Plan your walk with one of the guides. Or explore for yourself! Ghent Light Festival To draw attention to its award-winning lighting, the city organises the Ghent Light Festival every three years. Hundreds of thousands of visitors head to Ghent from far and wide, Belgium and abroad. Almost 40 dazzling light installations are set up throughout the entire city, along a trail almost 4 miles long. Some of these works of art are made by Ghent residents. Others provide a platform for international light artists. Wander from one astonishing sight to another along the interactive trail! The best thing of all is that people come together for light art at the darkest time of year. There is nothing like this festival of light anywhere else in the world. Make sure you don’t miss it the next time it comes to town!

Flea market at Bij Sint-Jacobs

Flea market at Bij Sint-Jacobs

A ten-day party around ten centuries of history A square steeped in folklore. Whether you visit during the Ghent Festivities in the summer or come to the weekly flea market, there is always something going on here. It is a real hotspot for bargain hunters at the weekend. And in mid-July, it is the epicentre of the Festivities with a capital F. The main stage at St James’ Church gets the whole city rocking! Ghent Festivities Bij Sint-Jacobs, the popular square around the stately St James’ Church, has been the centre of the Ghent Festivities for decades. This was where the festivities were given a new lease of life in 1969 at Café Trefpunt, by the folk singer Walter De Buck. An old Ghent tradition was reborn. What started out as a small affair among artists around St James’ has grown into an event that takes over the entire city centre, thanks to support from Ghent city council. The ten-day, non-stop party is packed with folklore, street theatre, puppet shows, and music, and has now grown into one of the biggest street parties in Europe! Flea market treasures Before and after the Ghent Festivities, the local atmosphere is never far away at Bij Sint-Jacobs. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, this lively square is taken over by trinkets, baubles, small antiques and old junk. The flea market is a real Ghent tradition. And the market is so firmly rooted in Ghent culture that a whole host of vintage and curiosity shops have moved into the streets around the Romanesque church of St James, beside the famous antiques gallery, Gallery St-John. Bij Sint-Jacobs is the absolute place to be for collectors! A scarred fortress The mighty St James’ Church stands in the middle of the square. A rough, Romanesque fortress of God. Its imposing architecture, dating back to the 12th century, may be the reason that this old church is still standing. It has survived desecrations and an iconoclasm. It has been damaged, scarred and then repaired, restored and extended time and again. That has led to an interesting mixture of styles. The architecture is Romanesque with Gothic and Baroque elements. It is a genuinely remarkable piece of religious architecture.

In Ghent you're time will be too short! Start your exploration with the unmissable stops. Furthermore you will find numerous monuments, sites, museums and much much more ...
Old St Elizabeth Beguinage

Old St Elizabeth Beguinage

Beguine city in Ghent: a tolerant ‘holy corner’ The beguinages of Flanders and the Netherlands are always oases of calm and stillness, where you might still expect to see an old beguine mumbling her prayers in a doorway. Two of Ghent’s three beguinages have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Although the Old St Elizabeth Beguinage, in Begijnhofdries in Ghent, is no longer enclosed by a wall, making it simply part of the city, it still has a unique atmosphere. Today the Old St Elizabeth Beguinage is known as ‘holy corner’, a place of religious tolerance, because it has no less than three different churches: one is Roman Catholic, one is Orthodox and the other is Protestant. From bleachfield to orchard This open beguinage grew into something of a ‘beguine city’ in the 13th century, with a church, the ‘Grootjuffer’s House’, an infirmary, a chapel, more than a hundred houses for beguines, a bleachfield (a field where linen was laid out to bleach) and an orchard. After the French Revolution, with increasing industrialisation, the inhabitants moved to their new beguinage in Sint-Amandsberg in 1873. The new Orthodox church in Sophie Van Akenstraat is a striking sight in Ghent. A visit here is more than worthwhile. Inside, the church is painted with frescos using the authentic Byzantine technique. The façade depicts the Twelve Apostles with mosaics in rounded niches. Heavenly art on façades in Ghent Do you want to see more of this colourful façade art during your city trip? You will find another gorgeous mosaic on the façade of the Royal Dutch Theatre on Sint-Baafsplein. Apollo, the Roman god of music and joy, is represented with his muses: song, dance and music. Ghent is full of historic charm and captivating interest.

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

Powerful Ghent church and home of the Mystic Lamb This magnificent sight on Sint-Baafsplein in Ghent is a proud old lady: don’t just walk past her on your city trip. St Bavo’s Cathedral is the oldest parish church in the lively heart of Ghent. It stands on the site of a 10th century church and a 12th century Romanesque church. The latter was dedicated to St John the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was a rich and powerful city that had the means to commission ever-larger and more opulent churches. So the Church of St John the Baptist was converted during the 15th and 16th centuries into the imposing Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral. A history of rebellion: from church to cathedral Looking for a weekend getaway that is just that little bit different? Do you like to explore off the beaten track? Welcome to Ghent, the city of rebels! St Bavo’s Cathedral literally carries Ghent’s rebellious history in its very stones. In the crypt, the Romanesque style can still be seen in the central nave. In the 15th century, it was decided that the Romanesque structure would be replaced with a larger Gothic church that was completed in 1559. In 1540, the church became the seat of the Chapter of St Bavo, and St Bavo became the patron saint of the church. Later, in 1559, the church was converted into the cathedral of the Bishops of Ghent. Bursting with riches: Ghent’s art treasures St Bavo’s Cathedral has a rich history and it is also filled with art treasures that make many an art-lover’s mouth water: from the baroque high altar in white, black and red flamed marble, the Rococo pulpit in oak, gilded wood and marble, to a masterpiece by Rubens: Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent, and the Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, the Gothic chandelier/sanctuary lamp, the opulent tombs of the Bishops of Ghent – and of course the world-famous Mystic Lamb. Admire the divine glow of ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo’s Cathedral. Read all about this famous work by the Flemish Primitives. Do you want to visit the Mystic Lamb? Find out the opening hours of the chapel where the Mystic Lamb is on display at St Bavo’s Cathedral. Fascinating fact about the Mystic Lamb: So that you have a chance to admire all the panels of the Ghent Altarpiece in all their glory, the outer panels of this masterpiece by Van Eyck are folded inwards every day between 12.00 and 13.00. Admission tickets for this chapel are sold until about 15 minutes before closing time. Souvenirs galore: the cathedral shop Of course you want memories to take home with you that are as beautiful as the cathedral itself. Pop into the cathedral gift shop for postcards, art books, posters etc. ‘Festive’ view of the city of Ghent You can only go up the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral during the Ghent Festivities. Negotiate the stairs and enjoy the magnificent view of this unique party for the people in the heart of Ghent. At other times of the year, you can enjoy the most beautiful view of Ghent from directly beneath the golden dragon, Ghent’s mascot, on the Belfry tower opposite. From there you can continue exploring the heart of Ghent. Anything goes.

Flea market at Bij Sint-Jacobs

Flea market at Bij Sint-Jacobs

A ten-day party around ten centuries of history A square steeped in folklore. Whether you visit during the Ghent Festivities in the summer or come to the weekly flea market, there is always something going on here. It is a real hotspot for bargain hunters at the weekend. And in mid-July, it is the epicentre of the Festivities with a capital F. The main stage at St James’ Church gets the whole city rocking! Ghent Festivities Bij Sint-Jacobs, the popular square around the stately St James’ Church, has been the centre of the Ghent Festivities for decades. This was where the festivities were given a new lease of life in 1969 at Café Trefpunt, by the folk singer Walter De Buck. An old Ghent tradition was reborn. What started out as a small affair among artists around St James’ has grown into an event that takes over the entire city centre, thanks to support from Ghent city council. The ten-day, non-stop party is packed with folklore, street theatre, puppet shows, and music, and has now grown into one of the biggest street parties in Europe! Flea market treasures Before and after the Ghent Festivities, the local atmosphere is never far away at Bij Sint-Jacobs. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, this lively square is taken over by trinkets, baubles, small antiques and old junk. The flea market is a real Ghent tradition. And the market is so firmly rooted in Ghent culture that a whole host of vintage and curiosity shops have moved into the streets around the Romanesque church of St James, beside the famous antiques gallery, Gallery St-John. Bij Sint-Jacobs is the absolute place to be for collectors! A scarred fortress The mighty St James’ Church stands in the middle of the square. A rough, Romanesque fortress of God. Its imposing architecture, dating back to the 12th century, may be the reason that this old church is still standing. It has survived desecrations and an iconoclasm. It has been damaged, scarred and then repaired, restored and extended time and again. That has led to an interesting mixture of styles. The architecture is Romanesque with Gothic and Baroque elements. It is a genuinely remarkable piece of religious architecture.

Ghent all-in: experience Ghent to the full! Access to the main historical houses, museums and attractions (and their complete offer) + a free guided boat tour + free public transport + free use of hop on hop off water-tramway (1 day) + free bike rental (1 day). Most museums in Ghent are free for children and young people up to 19 years, so the City Card is not quite a deal for them. Additional advantage Thanks to the City Card you can also follow the restoration of the Mystic Lamb up close: ° the triptych itself in the Cathedral ° the panels, which are being restored in the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) You can buy the City Card Ghent in: ° The Ghent Tourist Office (Sint-Veerleplein 5) ° All participating museums and attractions ° Ghent’s hotels ° All sales points of public transport company De Lijn Enjoy your visit! Price €30.00 48 hours Price €35.00 72 hours
St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

Powerful Ghent church and home of the Mystic Lamb This magnificent sight on Sint-Baafsplein in Ghent is a proud old lady: don’t just walk past her on your city trip. St Bavo’s Cathedral is the oldest parish church in the lively heart of Ghent. It stands on the site of a 10th century church and a 12th century Romanesque church. The latter was dedicated to St John the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was a rich and powerful city that had the means to commission ever-larger and more opulent churches. So the Church of St John the Baptist was converted during the 15th and 16th centuries into the imposing Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral. A history of rebellion: from church to cathedral Looking for a weekend getaway that is just that little bit different? Do you like to explore off the beaten track? Welcome to Ghent, the city of rebels! St Bavo’s Cathedral literally carries Ghent’s rebellious history in its very stones. In the crypt, the Romanesque style can still be seen in the central nave. In the 15th century, it was decided that the Romanesque structure would be replaced with a larger Gothic church that was completed in 1559. In 1540, the church became the seat of the Chapter of St Bavo, and St Bavo became the patron saint of the church. Later, in 1559, the church was converted into the cathedral of the Bishops of Ghent. Bursting with riches: Ghent’s art treasures St Bavo’s Cathedral has a rich history and it is also filled with art treasures that make many an art-lover’s mouth water: from the baroque high altar in white, black and red flamed marble, the Rococo pulpit in oak, gilded wood and marble, to a masterpiece by Rubens: Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent, and the Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, the Gothic chandelier/sanctuary lamp, the opulent tombs of the Bishops of Ghent – and of course the world-famous Mystic Lamb. Admire the divine glow of ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo’s Cathedral. Read all about this famous work by the Flemish Primitives. Do you want to visit the Mystic Lamb? Find out the opening hours of the chapel where the Mystic Lamb is on display at St Bavo’s Cathedral. Fascinating fact about the Mystic Lamb: So that you have a chance to admire all the panels of the Ghent Altarpiece in all their glory, the outer panels of this masterpiece by Van Eyck are folded inwards every day between 12.00 and 13.00. Admission tickets for this chapel are sold until about 15 minutes before closing time. Souvenirs galore: the cathedral shop Of course you want memories to take home with you that are as beautiful as the cathedral itself. Pop into the cathedral gift shop for postcards, art books, posters etc. ‘Festive’ view of the city of Ghent You can only go up the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral during the Ghent Festivities. Negotiate the stairs and enjoy the magnificent view of this unique party for the people in the heart of Ghent. At other times of the year, you can enjoy the most beautiful view of Ghent from directly beneath the golden dragon, Ghent’s mascot, on the Belfry tower opposite. From there you can continue exploring the heart of Ghent. Anything goes.

Coffee bars are proliferating in every city and Ghent is no exception! These specialist stores serve coffee, tea or hot chocolate in all shapes and sizes, together with a delicious sandwich, cake or muffin if you wish. Pure enjoyment!
Love great food? You’re in luck. Ghent is the place to be for the good life and great food. Ghent residents love to enjoy life. Whet your appetite during your weekend trip with the huge array of restaurants, bars and cafés in Ghent. Make your mouth water with gastronomic or fusion cuisine. Foodies will be right at home here. Ghent is the veggie capital of Europe, and its young rock-star chefs are causing a sensation on the international food scene. Taste. Enjoy.
Ghent is well known as a ‘Festival City’. See what’s on!

Public Transport

Most common ways of getting about in the town: On foot: most sights are within walking distance. Public transport: bus and tram. Taxi: taxis can be found continuously in Ghent. Alternative means of travel: Canal boat: the boats will sail you along Ghent’s best kept secrets. Rental Vespa: for those who would like to explore the city in a different way. Rental bicycle: biking is an excellent way to get around in the city if you don’t feel like walking. Prices for the various modes of transport: Canal boat: Approximately 8 euros for 1 hour. Public transport: A day ticket costs approximately 5 euros. Rental bicycle: Approximately 10 euros/bike for 1 day. Rental Vespa: 40 to 50 euros for 3 hours and 70 to 80 euros for 7 hours. Taxi: Approximately 8 euros/3 kilometres, after 3 kilometres there is an additional fee of 2 euros/kilometre. From 22:00 to 06:00 there is another additional fee of 2,50 euros. How long do the various modes of transport take to cross the city: From the station Gent Sint-Pieters to the Korenmarkt: Approximately 20 minutes by tram, approximately 30 minutes by bus, approximately 10 minutes by taxi and approximately 30 minutes on foot. From the Korenmarkt to the Woodrow Wilsonplein: Approximately 8 minutes by bus or tram, approximately 6 minutes by taxi and approximately 15 minutes on foot. How often do the various modes of transport run: Taxi: taxis can be found continuously at Woodrow Wilsonplein, Korenmarkt, the Gent Sint-Pieters Station, Gent Dampoort Station and Flanders Expo. Public transport: you will be able to take a bus or tram approximately every 10 minutes, depending on where in Ghent you need to be. What time do the various modes of transport start/stop operating: Canal boats: no canal boats can be rented during the winter months. Public transport: the first means of public transport start at approximately 05:40 and end at approximately 23:55. These times may vary depending on the line you will have to take. Taxi: taxis can be found 24/7.

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