Ghent is a city with a rich history, culture and a modern town look. This is one of the most beautiful places where you can spend your day, walking on the little cobblestone streets in the city.
Ghent is a true pearl, settled between the traditional touristic Brussels and Bruges. I had already visited these two cities and I thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything else in Belgium. I was wrong! Ghent completely turned around my notions and without a doubt is one of the most charming cities in Europe. As a well-preserved medieval centre, the architecture of Ghent is a typically Dutch with charming canals and cobblestone streets.
In spite of its exquisiteness, I spent only a couple of hours there thanks to the constant rain that was falling through the entire day. Thanks to a friend from Belgium I managed to visit and see the main touristic attractions in the city.
We started our walk from the Vrijdagmarkt square, where the majestic statue of Jacob van Artevelde is located, and his hand raised and pointing to England. Van Artevelde managed to cancel the boycott for import of the English wool during the time of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France and in this way; he revived the textile industry in Ghent.
Since the rain continued falling, we decided to continue the day in a less than a standard way – with a beer in hand, in one of the most emblematic Belgium pubs. A perfect way to enjoy the quality Belgium beer and to save ourselves from the rain that was getting stronger.
Pub De Dulle Griet
Pub De Dulle Griet is located in the centre of the Vrijdagmarkt square. Here you can dive into the medieval atmosphere and to try more than 500 types of beer.
If you order a local beer (MAX), you will have to leave one of your shoes as a guaranty, in order to receive the beer. The beer is served in a special glass (genuine coach glass) with the height of a half a meter on top of a wooden stand. The volume is exactly 1.2 litres at the price of €10.70. The shoe will be placed in a special basket which is hung on the ceiling and after you drink the beer and return the glass, you will receive your shoe from the bartender.
We drank a large beer for lunch and we continued our walk. The name of the pub comes from the gigantic cannon Dulle Griet, which is a couple of minutes away from the Vrijdagmarkt square. This cannon (bombard) comes from the 15th century and it was used in the siege of the Oudenaarde.
St Bavo’s Cathedral
One of the most famous landmarks in this incredible city is the Saint Bavo’s cathedral. It is an incredible ensemble of astonishing design, art and history, and even Charles V has been baptized here. The marvelous tall ceilings, exquisite stained glass, wood carvings, statues and paintings make this place a real textbook of architecture and decoration. People come from all over the world to see the impressive collection of exhibits, including the masterpiece of the Flemish art – “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”. In order to see it, you will have to pay €4 and you receive an audio guide for this price. Unfortunately, it is forbidden to take pictures.
Belfry of Ghent
Very close to the cathedral is the Belfry. From here you can enjoy the breath-taking view from the top. Naturally, this is possible when the weather is good.
One of the places, which you shouldn’t miss in Ghent, is the Gravensteen castle. It is located exactly in the center of the old part, so there is no way to miss it. Gravensteen is a medieval castle, built in 1180 by Philip of Alsace. The castle has plenty of rooms, halls, dungeons and yards but many of them are empty. You will have the chance to enjoy the wonderful view that looks to Ghent from the top of the castle. You can look at it from the outside for free or walk inside for €10.
St Michael’s Bridge
St Michael’s Bridge connects two part of Ghent. This is the only place in the city where you can see from the same place the St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church and the Belfry.
The rain decreased and after a short break, we continued our walk along the river.
The Graslei and Korenlei streets are settled from the two sides of the canal. According to the local ones, this place is the most beautiful part in town. Here, it’s full of cafes and restaurants, where you can try Waffles, which are specific for Belgium.
How to reach Ghent
- by train – the main station in Ghent is Gent-Sint-Pieters. Get on tram № 1 in the direction of the centre and get off at the “Korenmarkt” stop.
- Shuttle bus from the Charleroi Airport
- by car – the central zone of Ghent is a pedestrian zone. You can park your car in parking.