Ghent Strolling Tour: A Self-Guided Metropolis Path (Belgium)

Ghent and Bruges, the charming ‘darlings‘ of Belgium, have lengthy been pitted towards each other — not solely by vacationers however even by locals themselves! It’s no marvel although as a result of each of them are crammed with wealthy historical past and sights. (Ghent Strolling Tour)

In truth, I nonetheless fondly keep in mind how a mini-debate ensued once I first requested my Belgian buddies’ ideas on probably the most stunning city/metropolis in Belgium. As quickly because the query rolled out off my lips, there was immediately a divide: the Ghent crew and the Bruges crew. (In fact, there have been biased folks within the bunch since they lived in or near both of the 2.)

On the finish of the day although, there wasn’t a ‘winner’ within the argument so I merely determined that I’ll verify these two locations for myself! The ultimate verdict?

Properly, belief me once I say this: BOTH have been soooo beautiful could or not it’s daytime or evening time and it’s all due to their equally spell-binding buildings and canals — naturally, I can’t simply choose one! Even when they’re not completely the identical, each Ghent and Bruges have their particular person strengths and weaknesses that in the long run, they simply balanced out.

For example, Bruges wins within the ‘cuteness‘ division for being such a small but enchanting historic and medieval metropolis (some would even say that it’s like a ‘metropolis museum’ in itself); nonetheless, resulting from its long-standing reputation as one in every of Europe’s gorgeous little cities, it usually outcomes to a really touristy ambiance. Alternatively, Ghent has an even bigger space, leading to a extra dynamic metropolis with lesser vacationers (it’s even contested as an underrated picturesque vacation spot within the nation); nonetheless, some would say that it loses a bit on the romantic aspect of issues as in comparison with Bruges, particularly with the extra city ambiance that surrounds Ghent.

Given these factors, I wager you possibly can think about by now that for those who mix the 2, they might absolutely develop into an unbeatable pair! So I say: organize a visit for the each of them you probably have the time. However for those who don’t, then along with your information now of the professionals and cons of every, as per your touring model, you possibly can decide the very best vacation spot for your self.

To learn and know extra about Bruges in addition to the issues that you are able to do, come and take a look at my submit right here:

» READ: Issues to Do in Bruges

In the meantime, to know extra concerning the metropolis of Ghent, do proceed studying by means of this text particularly since what I’m sharing with you as we speak is my very own self-guided Ghent strolling tour or route that can assist make your journey ordeal much more hassle-free.

DIY Ghent Strolling Tour

Fast Ghent Details

  • It’s Gent in Dutch and Gand in French. (It helps to know since Belgium predominantly speaks [Flemish] Dutch and French).
  • It’s the capital and largest metropolis of the East Flanders province with a inhabitants that’s round 248,000+ as of January 2013.
  • One of many well-known festivities can be Ghent Competition / Festivities or ‘Gentse Feesten’ which is held yearly for 10 days by mid-July and attended by tens of millions of tourists!
  • Ghent residents are known as as rope or ‘noose bearers’ (Stroppendragers) since previously, after revolting in 1539 towards the regime of Charles V (who was the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in 1539) and failing in doing so, Charles made the nobles of Ghent to parade round city barefoot and with a noose rope round their neck. (You’ll see a statue someplace in Prinsenhof commemorating this time previously, and additionally, you will discover that some indicators characteristic this ‘factor’).

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Ghent Strolling Tour Map

Despite the fact that it’s an enormous metropolis, you possibly can really discover the city on foot in only a day! On your ease, I’ve included a Ghent strolling tour map under exhibiting the handle and routes of the highest hotspots in Ghent, adopted by a listed part that briefly explains every of those locations.

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Issues to Do in Ghent

» Patershol

An outdated and medieval quarter in Ghent, Patershol is your go-to place for those who actually need to discover the ‘gastronomic’ or ‘foodie’ heart of the town. Lined with an array of small cafes and eating places, there’s undoubtedly one thing for everybody right here. Moreover, this space holds a appeal given its closed road sample — reality be instructed, that is stated to be one of the fascinating neighborhoods within the metropolis!

TRIVIA: This aspect of the river known as the ‘Area of the Counts’ because it was initially the property of the rely (that means that it was not owned by the town).

» Kraanlei

Observe the route indicated on the Ghent strolling tour map above and you’ll arrive on the road of Kraanlei which is by the river.

Proper someplace in the course of this stretch, you will notice two fascinating homes. First will probably be Kraanlei 81 which is a baroque home richly embellished with a flute participant, the 5 senses, a flying deer, and plenty of others. Subsequent will probably be Kraanlei 79 which is simply beside it. It’s known as the Six Works of Mercy adorned with 6 figures. Nevertheless, historians are arguing that there was a seventh which depicts the burial of the lifeless they usually declare that it may have been omitted because it was too grim.

NOTE: At present, this home is a store that sells Ghent specialties. A must-try can be the cuberdons, which are candy raspberry-flavored gum. It’s fondly known as as ‘Gentse neus‘ or Ghent nostril as a result of, as it’s, it appears like a human’s nostril.

» Different surrounding sight to see: Ghent’s model of Manneken Pis which they declare to be older than the Manneken Pis in Brussels.

» Gravensteen

Smacked proper in the course of the town stands the imposing Gravensteen or ‘Fort of the Counts’ that’s known as one of many strongest moated fortresses in Western Europe. Originating from the Center Ages, this was constructed by the previous rely Philip of Alsace and has since then develop into the seat of the Counts of Flanders. However someplace alongside the best way, it was deserted which lead the fortress to develop into a courthouse and a jail at sure closing dates.

At present although, it’s a museum that doesn’t solely showcase medieval armors however medieval torturing units as effectively. I took the prospect to do the tour right here and it was fascinating and… refreshing. (I say this as a result of the primary time that I visited this fortress, I had simply completed visiting the castles in France which have been predominantly crammed with stuff from royalty. Due to this fact it was fairly a brand new expertise once I lastly landed in a fortress that truly exhibits historic weapons, warfare, and the like).

» Charges: Primary value €10.00 / For +65 years €7.50 For these under 26 years €6.00 / For 19 years and under €0.00

» De Oude Vismijn

Or ‘Previous Fishmarket’ is situated within the sq. of Sint-Veerleplein and it is without doubt one of the oldest markets within the metropolis. In right here, you will notice the gatehouse in-built Rococo-style. It was initially embellished with three statues of sea gods however after a fireplace in 1872, solely the statue of Neptune (within the center) was saved. The remaining have been changed by statues of a person and a girl that respectively represents the River Scheldt and River Leie.

NOTE: It’s on this space the place you can find Ghent’s Vacationer Workplace.

» Jan Breydelstraat

In case you are into distinctive finds, just be sure you go by this slender but picturesque road of Jan Breydelstraat. In right here you can find a number of fascinating outlets and eating places similar to that of:

  • The Fallen Angels: for many who need a contact of nostalgia, you can find right here a variety of outdated and classic stuff!
  • Bloemenijs: come check out a novel flower ice cream.
  • Home of Elliot: one of many high eating places in Ghent and a Michelin-accredited restaurant, it’s a should to strive their lobsters! Simply ensure you reserve prematurely.

Additionally, you will discover key spots like:

  • Het Design Museum: it is a good place to go to for those who’re into modern and inside design.
  • Appelbrugparkje: one of many many hidden gems in Ghent, it is a park that has a very nice view of the river.

» Graslei & Korenlei

Probably the most-pictured space in Ghent is that this space round and between the streets of Graslei and Korenlei. (Should you’re following my map above, you’ll be standing on the Korenlei aspect with the Graslei road on the opposite aspect of the water).

Plenty of the locals would proudly declare that that is probably the most stunning spot of their metropolis and I’ve to agree with them! It was actually and completely magical each throughout the day and the evening. Again within the eleventh century, these each fashioned the town’s first buying and selling harbor.

On this time although, amidst a number of medieval guild homes which have survived the years (such because the Grain Weighers, the Guildhall of the Free Boatmen, and extra), it’s primarily a ‘hangout place’ speckled by cafes and eating places right here and there in order that guests and locals alike can benefit from the superb view whereas consuming. (Additionally, you will discover lots of people who would simply resort to sitting by the river, so be at liberty to do the identical!)

» Sint-Michielsbrug

(St. Michael’s Bridge) Stroll down a bit additional and go up the bridge! That is the very best place to get pleasure from a panoramic 360 view of virtually all the highest points of interest in Ghent.

You will notice the Graslei and Korenlei in entrance of you in your Ghent strolling tour, the St. Michael’s Church behind you, the Fort of the Counts within the distance, and the primary ‘three towers’ forward: Saint Nicholas Church, Belfry Tower, and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. You need to NOT miss taking a view and a shot from this vantage level!

» Sint-Michielskerk

As I’ve talked about above, simply beside the St. Michael’s Bridge can be Saint Michael’s Church (that’s why the bridge was known as as such). Clearly, as you might have seen from the featured photograph of this submit in addition to from the photograph above, this Roman Catholic church is a wondrous sight that you have to see in your Ghent strolling tour!

Supposedly, this was deliberate to be 134 meters excessive, however resulting from delays and price considerations, the tower was by no means accomplished and it simply stands now at 24 meters — which is completely fantastic. I personally suppose that it appears actually good this manner!

NOTE: You can find right here the well-known portray ‘Christ on the Cross’ by Anthony Van Dyck.

» Het Pand

Stroll somewhat bit additional and you will notice Het Pand, a former Dominican monastery and hospital which is now a cultural and congress heart owned by Ghent College. As a acknowledged monument, that is price testing! Moreover, the courtyard is sort of a reasonably sight.

» Sint-Niklaaskerk

By now, you’re on the industrial coronary heart of Ghent, however smacked proper within the center can be the outdated St. Nicholas’ church which is an exemplary instance of the Scheldt Gothic architectural model. One of many highlights of this church can be its organ which is produced by the well-known French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

» Metselaarshuis

Referred to as as Masons’ Guild Corridor in English, this construction that’s simply reverse of St. Nicholas’ church is the unique sixteenth century Masons’ Guild Corridor (“authentic” since there’s a precise copy of it on the Graslei).

And like every other typical guild corridor, you will notice on the highest of their stepped gable some distinguishing statues — this one has 6 dancers that seem like they’re merrily frolicking round. This was positioned by Ghent sculptor and folk-singer Walter De Buck, the one who spearheads the Ghent Competition.

» Stadshal

After a string of outdated historic landmarks, this would be the first trendy construction that you will notice within the metropolis! A big open cover construction that calls for consideration in the course of the Emile Braun sq., Stadshal, or ‘City Corridor’ was erected as a part of the city reconstruction targets for this public space. Beneath, there’s an space that features a brasserie, dressing rooms, public bogs, and a bicycle park.

Close by you will notice different landmarks like:

  • Emile Braunplein: a small park that additionally has the…
  • De Bron der Geknielden: (The Fountain of the Kneelers) a masterpiece composed of 6 bare younger males who’re seemingly staring into the reflection of the fountain’s water. Made by a Belgian artist, George Minne, this artpiece is claimed to suggest Narcissus from the Greek mythology who did the identical factor out of narcissism.
  • Mammelokker: this was fairly a sight! It depicts the legend of Cimon who was condemned to starve to dying, however he was saved by his daughter who breastfed him daily. (The title means precisely as is! “Mamme” = breast. “Lokken” = suck.)

» Het Belfort van Gent

The ‘Belfry of Ghent’ is about 91 meters excessive, making it the tallest belfry in the entire of Belgium. Previously, it was once a bell tower, a watchtower, and a spot the place information of municipal privileges have been saved.

With its adjoining rectangular corridor, it additionally was once the material corridor that dealt with the material commerce within the metropolis throughout the Center Ages (on the entrance of the small annex linked to this corridor, you will notice Mammelokker which I’ve simply mentioned above).

NOTE: That is listed underneath the UNESCO World Heritage Record.

» Koninklijke Nederlandse Schouwburg (NTGent)

The Royal Dutch Theatre is the town’s municipal auditorium the place you possibly can get pleasure from each classical and modern performs.

Not solely is it a spectacle from the within, however from the surface in addition to the god, Apollo, stands in the course of the sq. upon a fountain! To be taught extra concerning the theatre’s schedule, see right here.

» Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent

Picture by: VisitGent / CC

(St. Bavo’s Cathedral) That is the ‘seat’ of the diocese or bishop of Ghent. In 942, this was once a small picket church however afterward expanded in Romanesque model by 1038 and onwards. Come 1559 when the Diocese of Ghent was based, this church turned its cathedral. At present, St. Bavo’s Cathedral holds a variety of treasures!

From well-known work (Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent and The Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, View of Gent by Lucas de Heere, and so forth.) to key treasures (rococo pulpit, Baroque excessive altar, tombs of bishops, and so forth.), there are absolutely a variety of issues to see right here.

However after all, the one work that stands out from all the relaxation is the world-famous 12-paneled Ghent Altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb). As one in every of Belgium and the world’s biggest masterpieces (for being the primary main oil portray depicting the A to Z of Christianity), it’s stated to be the most stolen paintings of all time! Why so? Properly, it was robbed by Napoleon, practically burned by Calvinists, hunted in WWI, and repeatedly stolen in WWII (Hitler and Nazis actually needed to personal it). In truth, up until now, part of it’s nonetheless lacking which is ‘The Simply Judges’ panel.

TRIVIA: Should you watched the film, The Monuments Males, this is without doubt one of the work that they have been attempting to get well.

Once I first visited Ghent in 2013, I noticed this portray up shut in Museum voor Schone Kunsten* (Gent Museum of Advantageous Arts) as they have been doing a routine repair for it. It’s nonetheless there since they’re doing a 7-year restoration, so you possibly can undoubtedly go to this museum to get a take a look at it up shut and LIVE as they do their work. So what then is in St. Bavo’s Cathedral? Two-thirds of the unique work and the lacking panels which are being restored are changed by black and white replicas.

*The situation of the museum is a bit far outdoors the town heart so I didn’t embrace it within the Ghent strolling tour map above.

» Geeraard de Duivelsteen

Picture by: Lech Linkel / CC

That is the ‘Fort of Gerald the Satan’ named after the Knight, Geeraard Vilain. He was no satan however he was nicknamed that method and this edifice performed a significant function in defending the Portus Ganda, a buying and selling submit that was the muse of the creation of Ghent previously.

Over time, it has been a knight’s residence, an arsenal, a monastery, a college, a bishop’s seminary, a madhouse, and a jail.

» Stadhuis

That is the official City or Metropolis Corridor of Ghent (to not be confused with Stadshal above) and you’d instantly be struck by awe with its two ‘faces’: the flamboyant Gothic model on the best (by Hoogpoort road) and the darkish Renaissance model on the left (by Botermarkt road).

You may also see a variety of architectural kinds on this constructing: the Arsenal Corridor’s picket vaulting, the Pacification Corridor with its labyrinth, the Wedding ceremony Chapel with its stained glass home windows and a lot extra!

NOTE: Close by, you will notice Sint Jorishof which is the oldest lodge in Western Europe the place Maria of Burgundy stayed in 1477.

» Werregarenstraat or Graffitistraatje

Launched as a graffiti undertaking throughout the 1995 Ghent Competition, this has since remained as a ‘tolerant zone’ for every type of graffiti and the place all road artwork is to be positioned.

Artists are even given the liberty to alter the artworks as they please; subsequently, you would count on that the view right here will change now and again. It is a enjoyable place to go to in your DIY Ghent strolling tour so preserve your digital camera readily available!

» Sint-Jacobskerk

(St. James’ Church) Relationship again to the Romanesque interval, this church has gone by means of a variety of renovation, destruction, and enlargement.

In the meantime, the encircling sq. known as Bij Sint-Jacobs and the Trefpunt café is the epicenter of the Ghent Festivities yearly.

» Vrijdagmarkt

(Friday Market) That is one other one of many oldest squares within the metropolis and it performed an enormous function in historical past because it was once the place all political and social life in Ghent happened — although it’s additionally the place public executions have been accomplished. Surrounding this space are eating places in addition to key landmarks that you would take a look at:

  • Toreken: a fifteenth century tower the place commerce rules have been was once introduced from
  • Ons Huis: (Our Home) a monumental house of socialist commerce unions
  • Jacob van Artevelde statue: a key determine and the ‘Sensible Man of Ghent’ whose assist of the English King saved the town (in addition to Flanders) to stay impartial and unhurt throughout the Hundred Years Struggle. He was murdered years later by rivals and Ghent continues to be known as as we speak generally because the ‘Metropolis of Artvelde’
  • Tavern Dulle Griet: this isn’t a historic spot per se, however I highlighted this because it’s a legendary café to go to for Belgian beers! They’ve over 260 sorts, and clients can swap one in every of their sneakers for a Max beer (served in a boot-shaped glass). However don’t fear, you may get your shoe again afterwards.

» Dulle Griet

Picture by: Wernervc / CC

By the River Leie, you’ll probability upon this quaint-looking spot in your Ghent strolling tour the place you can’t solely unwind but additionally look upon the Dulle Griet (Mad Meg) which is a medieval supergun bombard constructed within the first half of the fifteenth century.

This was employed by the town within the siege of Oudenaarde (a close-by municipality).

» Groentenmarkt

Picture by: Paul Hermans / CC

One more Ghent sq. however this time round, it holds institutions the place you possibly can primarily purchase recent merchandise and Flemish specialties like Ganda ham, candy cuberdons, or the Tierentyn mustard. Just be sure you go to the medieval Nice Butcher’s Corridor which has a powerful open picket roof and nice alternatives of Flanders delicacies.

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Ghent Journey Information

» Find out how to Get to Ghent

By Automotive. Belgium has a powerful motorway so it’s very straightforward to achieve Ghent by automobile. Simply take both the 2 foremost highways E40 or E17 and also you’ll see ample indicators that can lead you to the town. (These two highways intersect to Ghent).

By Prepare. Likewise, Belgium has a superb prepare system and from the capital, Brussels, heading to Ghent will solely take you half-hour. Relying in your location, you possibly can choose both Gent-Dampoort or Gent-Sint-Pieters in your arrival station. Gent-Sint-Pieters is the primary station and all trains go by means of this, whereas Gent-Dampoort primarily serves in direction of/from Antwerp and is closest to the town heart.

TIP: Decide the “IC” marked trains since they journey quicker as in comparison with “IR”. The “L” trains are the slowest since they journey ‘regionally’, that means that it stops at extra stations.

By Bus. Eurolines and Megabus each go to/from Ghent.

By Airplane. The closest airport can be Brussels Airport (Zaventem Airport).

» If you would like a extra detailed transportation planner, strive utilizing Rome2Rio! I’m in love with this platform because it offers you all of the potential routes.

» The place to Keep in Ghent

Having landed in such a medieval metropolis like Ghent, you must completely seize the prospect of benefiting from your expertise by staying in an equally historic lodging! With Historic Accommodations Ghent’s assortment of three privately-owned institutions — the Ghent River Resort (4 stars), the Resort de Flandre (4 stars), and the Resort Gravensteen (3 stars) — you’re positive to have a significant and comfy keep! Assured.

Moreover, with their vary, you possibly can choose the lodge that most closely fits your wants whether or not or not it’s by value or by location (however then once more all 3 have a primary location inside the metropolis heart).

» Should you occur to have a tighter funds, you possibly can all the time verify by for the very best offers on different lodges, inns, and hostels in Ghent!

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You possibly can clearly see that Ghent is filled with wonders that you have to discover! Add the truth that it’s a car-free metropolis, you’ll by no means have to fret about visitors and you’ll even take your candy time in having fun with the charming streets totally.

All in all, I hope you’ll get pleasure from your journey totally with the assistance of my information. Do inform me the way it goes!

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