Country: Belgium Language: Dutch Currency: Euro (€)
Ghent is an underrated city in Belgium. It offers classic Belgium architecture and culture, without the tourist crowds. The grand and historic architecture complements the modern feel of the city. Ghent’s skyline features three tall towers; its squares are made up of impressive Gothic buildings, and the Leie River provides a peaceful escape from bustling city life. Come hungry to Ghent, as the food and beer in Belgium is some of the most popular in the world! Belgian beer, Belgian fries, Belgian waffles, and Belgian chocolate, just to name a few, somehow taste even better in Belgium! Also, vegetarians, rejoice! Ghent considers itself one of the veggie capitals of the world! The city can easily be explored in 2 days, as the historic center is small, and the city is very accessible by foot, but don’t be shy about spending a few extra days to revel in the Belgian culture, food, and atmosphere.
CTW Must See
Grevensteen Castle is a historic stone castle from the Middle Ages. It was the seat of the Counts of Flanders until the 14th century. In 1885, the building was scheduled to be demolished, as it was no longer up to safety regulations, and all of the businesses that occupied the building were evicted. It was then that the City of Ghent purchased the building, restored it to its original condition, and created a popular tourist attraction.
Graslei & Korenlei
Graslei, or Grass Quay, and Korenlei are beautiful quays along the Leie River. These two wharves served as a port during the medieval times, and now they are simply a beautiful place to spend an afternoon with a cold Belgian beer and some Belgian fries! Dating back to the 5th century, this part of town is said to be the oldest in Ghent; most of the houses along the river are from the Middle Ages! The riverfront is where tourists and locals come together and soak up the rich, historic atmosphere.
St. Michael’s Church & Bridge
At the end of the Graslei and Korenlei sits St. Michael's Church and Bridge. The beautiful bridge crosses the Leie River, helping to set an unforgettable and picturesque scene. The grand Gothic church was meant to be much taller than it is, the small bell tower at the end of the church was meant to reach 134 meters high. However, it never made it past 24 meters!
Korenmarkt is Ghent’s historic center and main square. Located just on the other side of Graslei, the square is busy with locals on bikes, tram cars, and tourists snapping photos of the impressive architecture. Korenmarkt makes a great spot to stop for coffee or lunch! In the early 1100, Korenmarkt was used as a cereal trading spot; hence its name translates to 'Wheat Market'. Now, it connects two of Ghent's shopping streets, making it a busy square with a lot to take in!
St. Nicholas’ Church
One of the most prominent landmarks of Korenmarkt, St. Nicholas’ Church is said to be the oldest building in Ghent and it holds one of the most significant organs in Belgium. Its central tower was used as an observation tower and also held the town bells until the belfry of Ghent was built. Take a half hour or so to wander through the striking St. Nicholas' Church, a building made of local blue limestone and yellow sandstone.
Belfry of Ghent
Ghent’s belfry reaches 91 meters into the sky, making it the tallest belfry in the country! This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in 1380. The belfry has had many roles over the years, including ringing the church bells, warning the city's citizens, serving as an observation tower, and it also rings every hour to announce the time. Beside the belfry is Ghent’s Town Hall, a large building that has many different venues inside, including a wedding chapel.
St. Bravo’s Cathedral
St. Bravo’s Cathedral makes up the third and final tower that creates Ghent’s picturesque skyline. The cathedral reaches 89 meters high, providing a third observation tower for the city. St. Bravo’s Cathedral was built in the Middle Ages in place of a wooden church that stood before it. The cathedral’s interior holds Roman crypts, beautiful stone and marble naves, and four organs!
Vrijdagmarket, one of Ghent’s oldest and largest squares, has played a significant role in the city’s history. Every Friday, the square hosts a large farmers' market. This tradition dates back to the early 1200s. Vrijdagmarket presents the perfect place to grab a bite and relax while enjoying the buildings that surround you. While the square is one of the the largest in Ghent, it feels much calmer than the bustling Korenmarkt.
STAM Ghent City Museum
The Ghent City Museum showcases Ghent’s rich history. The museum is located just outside the historic center, but is only a short tram ride away from the historic center. Spend an afternoon learning about Ghent’s growth and development over the centuries.
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