12 things to see in Ghent, Belgium

What to see in Ghent in 1 day

The next day, after our evening walk in Bruges, we went further. In the evening we should have been in Brussels, but the train Bruges – Brussels goes through a very nice and interesting city of Ghent. Given the fact that the train is only 1 hour, we decided, so to speak, to look through the city and in this article, I will try to talk about all the sights of Ghent, which we saw.

A similar maneuver we have done before, when we drove from Amsterdam to Bruges and then stopped for a few hours in the Dutch city of Belgium to see the main sights of Antwerp. However, unlike Antwerp, Ghent is quite a self-sufficient tourist city. Many people even compare it to Bruges, and some even give their preference to Ghent, because of the smaller number of tourists compared to the capital of Flanders.

How to get to Ghent

Ghent is located in the heart of Flanders. Many independent tourists use the city as a base to travel around the region. No wonder… Ghent is located between Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp, plus the North Sea coast is not far. Trains to all cities are fairly frequent. In short, you can get to Ghent without any problems.

You can not buy train tickets in advance, because there is no difference in price on the Internet and in ticket office. Trains in Belgium by the standards of Europe quite average, old … and after Holland it is obvious that the country is a little poorer. Upon arrival at the train station in Ghent, you can put your things in the automatic luggage locker. There are no problems. This is by the way a very important point! If it had not been at the station, I think we would have somehow rearranged our route and probably would not have visited the city. The Gent St.-Pietersstation is located at some distance from the city center. Trains by bus will take 5-10 minutes, not more.

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Ghent sights

We managed to see the sights of Ghent in 1 day.

city of ghent

The Grasleys and Kornleys

The Grasleys and Kornleys Streets are the trademark of Ghent. I think every tourist who decides to visit the city, first of all saw this view of these charming and picturesque streets on the Internet.

DSC_0084_new size

The Grasleys and Kornleys

I recommend not running out to see the sights first, but just to wander around Ghent. In fact, the city center is quite compact. I liked Ghent right away. You can tell right away that the city has a long imperial tradition.

city of ghent

I confess I didn’t know, and Wikipedia helped me find out that Ghent for 5 centuries (from 1150 to 1550) was the second largest city in Europe after Paris. Now, Ghent is home to one of Belgium’s major universities, and so the streets are full of young people sipping delicious Belgian beer.

View of the Belfort Tower

shop houses near the Korenmarkt grain market

Speaking of beer, as in Bruges, there are plenty of beer stores with a good selection of this drink to say the least.

Beer store in Ghent

Beer store in Ghent

You think this is the whole beer selection … hahaha .

Never too much beer

You can never have too much beer.

We were in Ghent during the World Cup, and some of the bars and restaurants in the city have flags of all the participants in the tournament on display.

Ghent sports bar

A sports bar in Ghent

To many people Gent reminds the same Bruges. That’s probably true. Here, however, there are fewer canals, more just alleys. In terms of atmosphere, Ghent reminded me more of the Dutch city of Delft. It’s the same non-touristy, but very beautiful!

Delft

On the way to our first attraction, the Castle of the Counts Gravensteyn, we meet some nice little streets like this.

Ghent side street

By the way, this street shows a clear difference in the architecture of the cities of Holland and Belgium. While in the Netherlands the houses are more austere, in Flanders everything is more painted. I can’t say that I like it better. In both places there is a twist! The main thing is that everything is in the same style!

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city of ghent

For a walk around the city without sightseeing you need 2-3 hours, no less. Again, the old town of Ghent is pretty small and after walking around the city for a while, we decided to go to the Castle of the Counts Gravensteyn.

Gravensteen castle

Gravensteyn Castle

Gravensteyn Castle

The Gravensteyn castle was built at the end of the XII century and is the only medieval castle in Flanders. The name intuitively suggests that it served as the residence of the counts. During the reign of Louis II of Malsky, in the XIV century, the castle ceased to perform the role of a residence because in the opinion of the then ruler, it was not too comfortable. In the middle of the XIV century, Gravensteyn Castle became a mint, and at the beginning of the XV century the supreme court and the prison were located there.

Gravensteen castle

Gravensteyn Castle

During the next centuries the castle became deserted, and at the end of XVII century it was sold to all comers. At the beginning of XIX century the main tower of the castle was used as a textile factory. The castle decoration had finally fallen into decay, and only then the city authorities decided to gradually buy the castle from the owners, who owned it at that time.

castle facade

Further restoration works went and the castle became one of the main sights of Ghent. The ticket to the Castle of Count Gravensteyn costs 10 euros. To be honest, I do not know how much it is justified. I like such places where you can wander along the medieval walls, but the castle itself is relatively small, and I still think that the cost of 10 euros is a bit steep. There is nothing particularly interesting inside the castle. Just gloomy medieval walls. If you see such interiors for the first time, you might be impressed.

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Inside Castle Gravensteyn

Inside Gravenstein Castle

Hand on heart, there are much more interesting sights of this kind in Europe, such as the Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra. From the walls of Gravensteyn Castle you have great views of the city center. You can take pictures of the old streets of Ghent, which I really love

View of the city from the castle walls

View of the city from the castle walls

There are plenty of subjects for photos, as you can walk around the walls of the castle in a circle. In the next photo you can partially see the three towers of Ghent, the Belfort, the Cathedral of St. Bavo and the Church of St. Nicholas.

View of Ghent

Castle courtyard

The inner courtyard of the castle

From the walls of Castle Gravensteyn you can get a better view of the various streets. Moss often grows on the walls of the houses, because Belgium is quite humid and wet all year round, but as you can see we were lucky with the weather, almost all day the sun was shining and it was warm!

One of the alleys of Ghent

One of the alleys in Ghent

Some houses in Ghent are more than 250 years old, and they look like new. Eh… well done, as they say built for the ages!

House built in 1766 in Ghent

The house from 1766 in Ghent

To summarize, I can say that in principle, if you have already been many times to various castles in Europe, here you are unlikely to see something new to you. But if you have time and if you are an amateur photographer I would still recommend to visit this landmark of Ghent.

View of Ghent from the castle walls

A view of Ghent from the castle walls

Belfort Tower

Ghent also has its own Belfort Tower, and the views from it are perhaps even better than its sister in Bruges, an article about which you can read here.

The Belfort Tower

Well I love the viewpoints and I can’t help it… so I couldn’t miss this landmark of Ghent.

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View of Ghent from the Belfort Tower

View of Ghent from the Belfort Tower

The Belfort Tower costs 8 euros and is open from 10:00 to 18:00 daily. They could incidentally increase the visiting time for the summer season, but then it depends.

city of ghent

The Belfort Tower has the best views of St. Bavo Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church. It’s very rare to have two major shrines on such a patch, and St. Michael’s Church is also not far away.

View of St. Nicholas Church from the Belfort Tower

View of St. Nicholas Church from Belfort Tower

I have not been to the UK, and Scotland in particular, but it seems to me that Ghent reminds me somehow of these places. For some reason I associate the Foggy Albion countries with a very austere and sometimes moody Gothic. The city itself is very neat, all neat and tidy houses, I like those kinds of views. The view from above, again reminded me of the city of Delft, which we had already visited!

View of Ghent

Bookmark about 1 hour of free time to explore all the beauties of Ghent from the tower of Belfort. It’s worth it, believe me!

St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Church of St. Nicholas

Saint Bavo Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in Belgium. In our visit to Ghent, we did not go inside the Cathedral, because we have already visited many places of worship, and decided to save some money, because the visit to the Cathedral of St. Bavo is paid and is 4 euros. The cathedral itself at the time of our visit was almost all in scaffolding… so there are almost no pictures of it. Here it is behind St. Nicholas Church and the Belfort Tower.

Saint Nicholas Church and Saint Bavo Cathedral

St. Nicholas Church and St. Bavo Cathedral

Inside, the cathedral is very similar to the Cathedral of Brussels, which we visited a little later. The Church of St. Nicholas we also saw only from the outside. It has great views from the Grasseley Street.

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View of Saint Nicholas Church

View of St. Nicholas Church

Church of Saint Michael

We still had some time left, so we decided to visit St. Michael’s Church, which is literally 100-200 meters away from the main streets of Graslei and Kornlei. On the way we were met by a bus going straight to Moscow That’s it, I wonder how many days it takes to travel.

Bus from Ghent to Moscow ))

Bus from Ghent to Moscow ))

View of Ghent next to St. Michael's Church

A view on Ghent next to Saint Michael’s church

The church of St. Michael is built as a typical representative of the northern Gothic. The interior decoration of the shrine is very reminiscent of the Cathedral of St. Bavon in Haarlem, where we were just 4 days ago!

Saint Michael Church

Church of Saint Michael

Decorations of St. Nicholas Church

Decoration of St. Nicholas Church

It’s free to visit the church, and it’s nice too, after all it’s not right to take money to visit a shrine.

Saint Michael Church

Church of Saint Michael

The spiral staircase of St. Michael's Church

The spiral staircase in the church of St. Michael

The church is not the most important attraction of Ghent, but I still recommend a visit! Just in case, I am adding the opening hours of the church. It is only open from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Saint Michael Church timetable

Saint Michael’s church schedule

Ghent sights on the map

Leaving Ghent, we took another walk through the city center. I would like to point out the beautiful old post office building, which again is next to the Graslei promenade.

Ghent city hall

The post office building in Ghent

As you can see, during our 5-6 hours in Ghent, we saw a lot of things. In fact, the city is very nice and if you want, you can stay in it for the night and still walk around evening Ghent. I think it should be very atmospheric too!

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