Ghent Tourist Attractions, Landmarks, Monuments and Sightseeing
(Ghent, East Flanders, Belgium)
If you have never actually visited Ghent before and wish to sightsee, then the best way not to miss out any of the main tourist attractions or local landmarks is to join a walking tour of the city. Tourists will find that regular walking tours of Ghent are usually readily available and will pass many historical monuments and quality attractions, such as the Belfort (Belfry), the Church of St. Nicholas, and the Cathedral of St. Bavo.
Also known as St. Baaf's Cathedral, the city's beautiful Cathedral of St. Bavo has long been an important landmark within the city of Ghent and its striking facade is really quite hard to miss, as is that of the 12th-century Gravensteen Castle, which presides over the St. Veerleplein. Another great way to sightsee in Ghent is to enjoy canal cruises, which operate between the months of April and October, and usually depart from either the Korenlei or the Graslei, on the western side of the Korenmarkt.
Address: Botermarkt, Ghent, Belgium, BE
The Ghent Belfort is a splendid belfry from the 14th-century, which towers over the old cloth hall (Lakenhalle), on the Botermarkt. Those feeling full of energy can actually climb the stairs to the very top of the tower, where some breathtaking views of the cityscape and its many attractive historic buildings can be enjoyed. However, those feeling less inclined to make the effort and exertion will be pleased to find a small lift as well.
Open hours: mid-April to mid-November, daily 10:00 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 17:30
Cathedral of St. Bavo (Sint Baafskathedraal)
Address: St. Baafsplein, Ghent, Belgium, BE
Tel: +32 09 225 1626
The Ghent Cathedral of St. Bavo is a beautiful building with impressive architecture. However, the main attractions lie inside the cathedral, where visitors will find the famous altarpiece painting of 'De Aanbidding van het Lams God', which is perhaps better known as the 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb' and is considered to be nothing short of a masterpiece. Painted in 1432 by Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck, this series of paintings comprises no less than 20 panels, representing a rather glorified version of the death of Christ. Ghent's Cathedral of St. Bavo contains many additional paintings and some rather impressive stained-glass windows, which are always a sight to behold on a sunny day.
Open hours: April to October, Monday to Saturday - 09:30 to 17:00, Sunday - 13:00 to 17:00; November to March, Monday to Saturday - 10:30 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:30, Sunday - 14:00 to 17:00
Admission: free, charge to see the Mystic Lamb
Church of St. Nicholas (Sint Niklaaskerk)
Without doubt one of the most imposing and famous of all the landmarks within central Ghent, the Church of St. Nicholas is extremely old and dates from the beginning of the 13th century, which is replaced an existing, less grand Romanesque church standing on this very spot. The eye-catching central tower was used for many years as a useful observation post and can still be easily distinguished on the skyline, remaining amongst the church's countless attractions. Located alongside the busy Korenmarkt (Corn Market) and in central Ghent, the Church of St. Nicholas was thoroughly renovated during the early part of the 20th century, when a number of adjacent houses were demolished.
Open hours: daily
Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts)
Address: St. Veerleplein, Ghent, Belgium, BE
Tel: +32 09 222 9306
Known to many as the Ghent Castle of the Counts, the imposing fortress of the Gravensteen is known to date back to the latter part of the 12th century and contains all of the best elements and attractions that you would associate with a medieval castle. These include a rather beautiful moat, turrets, plenty of small arrow slits and a grand entrance. The Gravensteen was built to protect the city, whilst also slightly intimidating the local residents to always abide by the law. Be sure to leave enough time to explore the adjacent district of Patershol, where a number of medieval landmarks and monuments reside.
Open hours: daily, April to September - 09:00 to 18:00; October to March - 09:00 to 17:00
Gerard de Duivelsteen (Castle of Gerard the Devil)
Address: St. Baafsplein, Ghent, Belgium, BE
Widely considered to be the city's second castle, after the Gravensteen, the rather less imposing Gerard de Duivelsteen is still an important tourist attraction in its own right. Standing just a stone's throw from the Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent's Gerard de Duivelsteen is sadly not open to public, although it is well worth viewing from the outside. The castle was built during the middle of the 13th century and is known for its beautiful Romanesque crypt. Over the years, this local landmark has served as a hospital, orphanage and even a fire station.
Open hours: daily - exterior only