About Ghent

Many visitors of Belgium seem to overlook Ghent, however its beauty is often compared to Bruges that has a more international reputation. Ghent counts over 9800 existing objects that are classified as valuable real estate. A large part of that is protected patrimony. The historic city centre of Ghent is definitely worth seeing.

The skyline of the town is dominated by 'the three towers’: the 95 meters high belfry tower, the Saint Bavo Cathedral (originally the Saint John’s Church) with the worldfamous altarpiece Lamb of God and the Saint Nicholas’ Church.

Ghent also has a large number of public works, for instance on the Graslei and the Korenlei with their prominent guildhalls and other buildings, such as the former Post Office.

One of the largest and most important public works in the town centre is the Gravensteen, a castle and counts residence from the twelfth century with an almost intact defence system. It is the only remaining medieval castle in Flanders. Another building with historic value is the Prinsenhof, where emperor Charles V was born in 1500 who reigned over the largest European empire since Charlemagne, as emperor of the Holy Roman empire.

Beside the belfry, that was built in the 14th century and received the status of UNESCO-World heritage, is the Clothmakers’ hall, which was in the Middle Ages the centre of the wool and textile trade in Ghent. Close to the belfry and the Clothmakers’ hall is the late Gothic town hall.

The Castle of Gerald the Devil was built in the 13th century, but sustained many changes throughout the years; today it is used for national archives.

Ghent also has many religious buildings. Apart from the Saint Bavo Cathedral and the Saint Nicholas Church mentioned above, Ghent has two other medieval churches: the Saint Jacob’s church and the Saint Michael’s church. According to plans from the seventeenth century the latter would have had a tower of over 130 metres, but this plan was never realized for financial reasons.

Apart from the churches, Ghent also has a large number of other religious buildings. For instance two former abbeys, both founded in the seventh century: the Saint Peter abbey and the Saint Bavo Abbey. There are also three beguinages in the city – the old Saint Elisabeth beguinage, the new Saint Elisabeth beguinage and the O-L-V Ter Hooie beguinage, the last two belonging to the world heritage of Flemmish beguinages.

Finally, the Pand is a former Dominican Monastery from the thirteenth century; today it is owned by the university. 

Beside the many places of interest Ghent also has a lot of museums that are certainly worth a visit such as the SMAK, the STAM, the MSK, the Design museum, the art hall of the Saint Peter Abbey, the house of Alijn, the MIAT, the Dr. Guislain museum,... 

Ghent also has a lot of cosy market places where you can wander around amongst the real citizens of Ghent: the Vrijdagsmarkt (Friday) and the Flower market (Sunday).

Ghent also has a number of parks and green zones that are worth a visit. 

Ghent is the host of many big events, such as the Gentse Feesten, a street, music and culture festival in the centre of Ghent, that lasts for 10 days. Ever since the 60s this festival grew into on the biggest national festivals in Europe. Ghent also organizes the music festivals I Love Techno and Ghent Jazz; Ghent is also one of the locations of the Festival of Flanders, a music event spread over the whole of Flanders. For film lovers there is the International Film festival of Flanders-Ghent, where the World Soundtrack Awards are granted.

There is a poetry route, a light festival, a museum night, and many more. 

Ghent has innumerable cosy pubs and restaurants for both young people (Ghent is a university town) and adults.

In short, Ghent is a dazzling city, worth the visit over and over again.

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