Ghent is one of my favourite Belgian cities. There are lots of beautiful things to see, but it’s not extremely touristy, like Bruges is. Here are my top 10 things to see and to in Ghent!
Also known as the most beautiful place in Ghent. On both sides of the river, there are picturesque houses and there is a beautiful bridge over the river. It’s also nice to see in the evening, when the houses are illuminated by the street lanterns and are reflected in the water.
The Ghent Altarpiece
A must-see for every art lover! The famous Ghent altar piece was painted in 1432 by the brothers Van Eyck and it’s the most detailed painting you will ever see. My friend brought a small binocular, so we could see even more detail. You can literally see the individual leg hairs of Adam on the top left. And you can see the reflection in a jewel on the mitre of one of the bishops in a crowd in the background of the lower panel. It’s simply amazing. Here is a great website where you can zoom in on the altarpiece!
You can find the Ghent altarpiece in the Sint-Baafskathedraal. It originally hung in one of the niches, but now it hangs in a seperate room near the entrance of the church and you need to get a ticket to see it. But once you’re there, don’t forget to look at the rest of the church as well. There is a beautiful pulpit, a beautiful altar and nice stained glass windows.
The Belfort of Ghent is also worth a visit. You can climb the tower using the old stairs, but you can also take the elevator. Each floor has some things exhibited, like the different kinds of bells and the original dragon that was on top of the tower. On the highest floor, you have amazing views over Ghent.
Museum voor Schone Kunsten
This art museum is one of the oldest in Belgium. They have a great collection from medieval art to art from the beginning of the 20th century. The collection contains many beautiful Flemish paintings, but also a lot of international paintings. Also, if some panels of the Ghent altarpiece are in restauration, they can be seen here in a seperate room, where you can see the restorers at work from behind a window.
This is a central square in Ghent where a lot of historical events have taken place. There has been a weekly market on fridaymorning since the year 1199! This is the place to sit on a terrace if the weather’s nice or to drink some hot chocolate milk inside if it’s cold.
The Gravensteen is a medieval castle in the centre of Ghent. You can take a look inside and walk on the castle wall. While the construction started in the 9th century, it doesn’t look very much like it did in medieval times. This is because the restorers that worked on the castle in the 19th century decided to make it look ‘more medieval’, so the castle isn’t historically correct. Nevertheless, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ghent.
The Sint-Niklaaskerk is a beautiful church built in the 13th century as a replacement for an older church. The organ is the biggest treasure of the church, but there are also lots of beautiful statues of the patron saint, Saint Nicholas.
Take an evening walk
Ghent is really beautiful at night. Most of the beautiful buildings will be illuminated and around christmas time, there are all kinds of christmas lights in the streets.
Enjoy some delicious Belgian waffles
Need some energy while you’re exploring the city? Why not try a delicious belgian waffle? You can eat them with lots of different toppings, like fruit, chocolate or just with powdered sugar, but my favourite topping was vanilla ice cream!
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