Ghent, also known as Gent, is a popular destination in Belgium. The word Gent is actually the Dutch spelling for the town of Ghent, Belgium, and the two words are sometimes used interchangeably. When you visit Ghent, you will discover it is packed with interesting things to see and do. Travelers will immerse themselves in Belgium’s culture and history by visiting a multitude of abbeys, beguinages, churches, castles, historic monuments and museums spread across the city of Ghent.
Once, Ghent, Belgium was second only to Paris, France, in terms of success and scale. In the 1830s, Ghent showed clear signs of industrialization as more and more factories were built in the area. Today, it is a vibrant city with a population of well over 500,000 residents. It is also estimated that more than 30,000 people fly to Ghent every day for work and social activities.
Since 1950, the city has experienced a significant revival phase: the canal has brought many businesses to Ghent. Today, with its rail network and many job opportunities, the city of Ghent, Belgium, continues to prosper as the capital of East Flanders.
Top places to see when you visit Ghent, Belgium
There are many places to see when you visit Ghent, Belgium. Travelers can get a beautiful panoramic view of the whole city on a visit to the Belfry or the Counts Castle in the historic city of Ghent. From either spot, it is easy to see several other popular places, including the Veerleplein, the Vleeshallen, the Church of St. Niklaas, the University Library, the medieval harbour, the Church of St. Michiels and the shopping center of Ghent.
In the heart of Ghent, visitors can also find St. Baafs Cathedral, a landmark building full of biblical works of art. Inside the St. Baafs Cathedral, you can admire artwork with depictions of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, the Holy Cross, and the representations of numerous counts of Flanders. In addition, when you visit Ghent, inside the cathedral you’ll find the tombs of the Flemish Bishops and the four pillars which were a gift from the Tudors of Britain. Finally, the cathedral has some of the most beautiful stained-glass paintings imaginable.
When you visit Ghent, you shouldn’t overlook the 15th-century canon that is now a monument near the Vrijdagmarkt. The Vrijdagmarkt is a square in Ghent, offering visitors the chance to get an idea of medieval life as they admire the architecture of the surrounding buildings.
Best things to do in Ghent, Belgium
There’s no shortage of things to do while visiting Ghent, Belgium. First, travelers may want to make sure that they see as many of the churches and cathedrals as possible, since no two churches are exactly the same. Each church has its own unique artwork and architecture, making it more difficult for any religious site to see the destination when visiting the area!
The St. Baafs Cathedral was built in the 14th century. Located in St. Bavos Square, it is free to visit unless you also want to see Ghent Altarpiece The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a revered and loved painting by Jan Van Eyck. The entrance fee for Van Eyck’s work is negligible and the cathedral is open daily between 08.30 and 18.00.
You should also visit the Gravensteen, also known as the Castle of the Counts of Flanders. The word Gravensteen is actually Dutch, and, translated literally, means the castle of counts. Raised in the late 1100s by Philip of Alsace, this is the very first stone castle ever to be built in Ghent. Only wooden buildings existed before the Gravensteen. In the end, the Castle of the Counts of Flanders was returned to its former glory and a number of medieval displays can be seen inside it.
Going to the Friday Market in the middle of Ghent will offer you the chance to enjoy a day of shopping outdoors. Olives, fresh fish, sausages, chicken, cheese, fruit and vegetables, bread, and bakery products are sold at several of the booths of the market. In addition, travelers can buy souvenirs, shoes, furniture, woodcarvings, knick-knacks, and many other things, too. The Friday Market surrounds one of the famous monuments in the Ghent City Square: Jacob Van Artevelde, a memorial to one of Ghent’s great political figures.
Eating and drinking in Ghent, Belgium
Those who love seafood should dine at Vier Tafels at 6 Plotergracht Street. The Vier Tafels is a bar and restaurant serving foreign delicacies, beers, drinks, fresh seafood, salads, pasta, fish, gambas, mussels, and much more. Vier Tafels is known for its traditional cuisine, and there’s something for every traveler’s taste in its menu. So don’t skip it when you visit Ghent, Belgium!
T Keteltje at 1 Nederkouter Street is also a great spot if you want a romantic dinner while you visit Ghent. Fully dressed tables and a selection of seasonal dishes make T Keteltje one of the best places to dine in Belgium!
The De Foyer Brasserie at 17 Sint-Baafsplein is another interesting location, as it’s now housed in the former Royal Dutch Theatre. The De Foyer Brasserie serves fine dishes such as tomato crevettes, gray shrimp, chicken waterzooi, crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, and tarts, among other delicious desserts.
The Chez Leotine Restaurant at 10-11 Groentenmarkt also serves waterzooi, Flemish beef stew, and fries. Waterzooi is a special Belgian dish, much like cream of chicken soup, with rice, carrots, celery, and onions in the mix. After having a meal at the Chez Leotine Restaurant when you visit Ghent, travelers may find that the size of the servings they received left little to no space for dessert!
If you’re looking for entertainment when you visit Ghent, Belgium, you will appreciate stopping at Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant after sunset. The Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant at 9 Groentenmarkt offers a fine range of beers, both seasonal and guest. Weary travelers can rest and relax while they drink the beer of their choice and enjoy the scenic view of the canal!
Ghent for families
As they visit Ghent, families can also appreciate a little culture in the Alijnhuis, a museum located at 65 Kraanlei Street. With craft rooms, exhibits portraying medieval life in Gent, bride objects and the like, plus several children’s games, the Alijnhuis can provide hours of fun for the entire family.
Olivia Peeters is a sustainable travel enthusiast from Belgium. She is happiest while sailing, hiking, cycling, or doing anything else outdoor.
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