The Best Travel Guide to Ghent
Provided by: Stad Gent - Dienst Toerisme

St Peter’s Abbey

You can visit the abbey with a unique movie guide. In seventeen episodes, the digital monk Alison will take you on an exciting journey through the centuries-old passages of the abbey and, with your help, will try to unravel the mystery. The refectory wing of St Peter’s Abbey is authentically medieval. The splendid garden with its vineyard and ruins is a green oasis in the city. St Peter’s Abbey hosts prestigious internationally-oriented cultural exhibitions every year.
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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.
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St Michael’s Bridge, romantic Ghent

Fairy-tale view: take your Ghent selfie! Click-click. St Michael’s Bridge is the place for romantic hearts. Grab your smartphone and take some spectacular selfies. Wherever you look, there is a breathtaking view: you are surrounded by 360 degrees of Ghent’s charming beauty. Get an extra-special fairy-tale view of the heart of Ghent at twilight, when all the historic sights are gorgeously illuminated. In short, St Michael’s Bridge is where you will find out what makes the people of Ghent and everyone who has been here love Ghent so much. Pause for a view of the three towers Experience a moment to remember on St Michael’s Bridge during your weekend in Ghent. Pause here to enjoy the picture-postcard views: the Graslei and Korenlei with the Old Fish Market, the Castle of the Counts in the distance, St Michael’s Church, the back of Het Pand and, of course, all three of Ghent’s famous towers in a row. It is only from this bridge that you can capture all three of them in one single picture. St Michael’s Bridge used to be a flat turntable bridge, but it was replaced by stone arches at the beginning of the 20th century. In the middle of the bridge is a beautiful central lantern with a bronze statue of St Michael. Cameras at the ready!
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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.
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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.
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