Ghent St.Bavo’s Cathedral & St.Michael’s Cathedral (Flanders - Belgium)

There are 5 Monumental Churches of Ghent! I managed to 2 of those. One of the most important sites in Ghent is the St.Bavo’s Cathedral. Located just beside the Belfry, this is the oldest Parish Church in Ghent. Originally this was the site of a 10th C chapel of St.John the Baptist consecrated by Transmarus bishop of Tournai and Noyon in 942. By 12th C, a Romanesque church was built here. The present church is the Gothic architecture built in 1559. Today this is the principal church of the diocese of Ghent.


Even before I entered the church, there, at the entrance arch, the slots were not filled with sculptures! It’s left half way through as a masterpiece in making! The high rise ceiling and the arches of the Gothic church are so stunning! The stained glass windows are masterpieces! 

However what caught my eye was the organ, made in 1653 in Lille. One more organ was added in 1935 in Germany. It has 3000 pipes and 5 keyboards. I was really lucky to actually listen to how amazing the sound was, with a man playing music on this! It was just magical. I got so engrossed in the music that it totally slipped my mind to take video of it to share with you guys here!  


Exploring the whole church, I went over to the crypt and it took way too much time for me to get out of the crypt! Those who read my blog regularly know that, anything that older, catches my attention so much more. The crypt still has frescoes dating back to 12th C CE (contemporary of Canterbury!). Those were in various level of deterioration, but I was just floored to see frescoes, so old!!! The only one older Christian fresco than this I’ve seen was in Duomo di Milano of 8th C CE…

The reason that this is the most visited Cathedral in Ghent is because it houses the art ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck. Most definitely a gorgeous masterpiece painted in 1420s-30s. It’s an oil on wood artwork that opens & closes. Every day from 12:00noon to 1:00PM, this is kept closed to appreciate the restoration efforts, otherwise is open to be mesmerized by Van Eyck brothers. Originally this was the altarpiece of the church, however today it’s in a protected room with controlled light & humidity! 

The other church of the 5 Monumental Churches of Ghent that I visited was St.Michael’s Church. This was one humongous church!!! This was the original location of St.Bavo’s Abbey in 11th C CE! However no material remains of the original church. The present structure is an early Gothic structure that began in 1440 CE. However, the construction didn’t get over till 1825!!! Inspite of going through Renaissance and Baroque periods, the architecture remained purely Gothic!

The pulpit belongs to 1846 after the original one of 1696 was destroyed in French revolution. The marble sculpture is of the healing of Jericho's blind. Another feature of the church is the Rowing Boards which are rhombus shaped mourning boards. Since 1784 CE, Joseph II prohibited burying the dead in the church as well within city limits. So people were buried out of the city limits and a mourning board was placed in the church. 

The church also houses some gorgeous masterpieces of Flemish Renaissance masters. Golgotha of Anthony Van Dyck, Awakening of Lazarus, by Otto Van Veen etc, all painted in 1500s and 1600s. The best part - entry to this church is free and to see these with your own eyes, doesn’t require another extra ticket!!!!

To Stay:
Hotels at all price points are available in Ghent City Centre.
Here’s my review of Ghent River Hotel where I stayed.

To Get There:
To Ghent: Refer to my earlier post
Local transport in Ghent possible with bus & tram (incl in the City Card Ghent All in).
On Google Maps: St.Bavo's Cathedral; St.Michael's Church
Nearest Bus/Tram stop: Gent Duivelsteen; Gent Korenmarkt respectively 

Timings: 
St. Bavo’s Cathedral: Mon-Sat 8:30AM to 6:00PM & Sun 1:00PM to 6:00PM in Summers (Closes 1 hr earlier in Winters) 
Adoration of Mystic Lamb: Mon-Sat 9:30AM to 5:00PM & from 1:00PM in Summers (Opens 1 hr late & closes 1 hr earlier in Winters)
St. Michael’s Church: 2.00PM to 5:00PM

Entry Ticket:
St.Bavo’s Cathedral & St.Michael’s Church: Free
Adoration of Mystic Lamb: €4 (incl audio guide). 
Entry is included in City Card Ghent All in, but €1 is to be paid for the audio guide.

My complete Gent travelogue: Illuminated night walkBelfry & BeguinagesGravensteen Castle of the CountsHistorical City Centre

P.S: I was invited by VisitGent to experience the city and hosted by Historic Hotels Belgium for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

26 comments:

  1. The stained glass is so beautiful! I haven't been to Flanders yet but the cathedral is definitely on my list for when I do.

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  2. After visiting Ghent and seeing the buildings I wish I had gone inside them too now. Those frescoes you found were a nice surprise and so old too! I'm going to the Duomo in Milan so I now know to look for a fresco and will definitely go inside.

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  3. I can imagine what the feels like worshipping in a cathedral as old as St. Bavo's Cathedral. I'm sure the atmosphere at St. Bavo's would feel oldie kind of. The inside is beautifully sculptured and I can't but be amazed at how skilled people were back then. Really wish everywhere is like this.

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  4. I didn't get to visit Ghent when in Belgium, and what a shame! These churches are wonderful, with so much history and detail too. You're right about the colour and frescoes, so exquisite, your eyes don't know where to begin.

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  5. This church looks super ornate! I haven't been to Belgium yet, but it's on my bucket list. I'll definitely make St. Bavo's Cathedral a stop! That stained glass is stunning!

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  6. I've seen Ghent in pictures. I'm not surprised it boasts of St Bavo's Cathedral and St Michael's church. And what's 'mazing is that even long after years, the designs are still reserved. Any sound coming from these churches would be heavenly.

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  7. I haven't been to many churches till now, but your pictures really intrigue me. Am in awe of the stained glass windows and the majestic building architecture. Its really amazing that buildings with such striking architectural beauties were built a long time back.

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  8. I wish I would have had enough time to visit Ghent when I was in Brussels earlier this year. The churches and cathedrals here look amazing. How lucky that you were able to listen to someone play the organ in the St.Bravo's Cathedral. I'm sure it sounded fantastic.

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  9. Old cathedrals are always amazing me. The arts are so details and beautiful. Your photos are beautiful too!

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  10. Cathedrals in Europe always amaze me, and these two are really stunning! I wish I could be there to listen to the 17th-century organ as well! Must be really melodic.

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  11. The church's interior looks magnificent. Amazing how the details of the sculptures and ornaments are so intricate and well preserved after all these years. The Van Eyck brothers were very famous in their day, nice to see some of their work still being displayed in this iconic church.

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  12. This has been on my bucket list for years so I am planning a trip there over Xmas and really looking forward to it. I am totally anti-religion but simply love visiting these beautiful cathedrals masterpieces, the peace and the aura of them just fills me with such awe.

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  13. Those stained glass windows are stunning! I can't believe there are so many incredible churches to explore in Ghent - sounds like you'll have to go back another time to visit the other 3!

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  14. So so beautiful - the design on the stained glass windows is so delicate and pretty. Would love to visit Ghent and take time to stroll around these stunning cathedrals.

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  15. I love visiting churches to see the grandiose architecture inside and the arches. Those high ceiling look really stunning.

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  16. Spectacular churches! Now I really have to put Ghent on my list of cities to visit in the future if you say it has five of these grand churches. I love visiting churches.

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  17. These are lovely old churches. I haven't been to Belgium yet, but I imagine it would be a wonderful country to visit and Ghent looks like an historic town.

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  18. Awww~~~ This place is so beautiful! I want to visit Belgium so much!!! Still saving money..

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  19. The churches looks really beautiful in terms of architecture and religious heritage. There's so much story in their walls.

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  20. Mesmerizing architecture! I often wonder about the amazing creativity and technology those people must have applied...It's so many years ago and still these structures look like new.

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  21. Wowzers! Those churches and the architecture are entirely grand. Those paintings are absolutely stunning. I'd imagine I would spend days just walking slowly through all of it.

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  22. Wow! These churches look fantastic. I've never been to Ghent but the architecture looks great. Do you recommend visiting Ghent for other reasons?

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  23. a couple of very beautiful Cathedrals! I would love to check out the crypt of St Bavo. These frescos seems amazing. One of the reasons I like to visit churches is the art you get to see - the churches in Ghent follow that rule. I went to the National Museum here in London the other day, there is a very big section with Flemish artists.

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  24. Wow!! These churches looks so stunning. The architectures amazed me so much. and I really like visiting churches because of it's history and story that's tell us.

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  25. That cathedral architecture are so stunning and breathtaking. and those paintings are so beautifully perfect.

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  26. Man! That architecture! Absolutely beautiful. I love visiting Cathedrals when I travel, particularly in Europe. They are always amazing!

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