Historical City Centre of Ghent (Flanders - Belgium)

The whole of Ghent city is divided into 2 sections - Historical City Centre and Artistic Quarter. The Artistic Quarter majorly comprises of all the museums except 4 which are in the historical quarter. Being in Ghent for only a weekend, I missed the whole of Arts Quarter and chose to see Historic centre more thoroughly!
As usual, as any other place, my first target was to visit a place that’s open 24 hrs and I headed to Werregaren Straat or more fondly called Graffiti Street. This was originally a temporary project for the Ghent Festivities in 1995. Whatever graffiti I’ve seen in pictures, I didn’t see in reality and you may not see what I saw! The street keeps changing on an everyday basis. There are no rules here and you could also take your spray can and create a masterpiece here. Sometimes the whole wall is painted black by the city to provide a new canvas!!!
Almost at the end of this street is the Town Hall built in early 16th C CE. Unlike Leuven, here many of the niches for sculptures are still empty.  But like Leuven, here too, the interiors can be accessed only on a guided tour. I didn’t take the tour in Ghent though. This has 51 rooms in it including a Wedding Chapel where a wedding was happening when I went. 
The walk from there towards the Belfry took me first to the Stadshal or City Pavilion. This was built in 2012, designed by architectural firm Robbrecht & Daem - Maie-Jose Van Hee. It has 1600 roof windows and looks more stunning at night than day!!!! There are a couple of pianos beneath it and general public are seen playing many a times! The night, as we walked on the romantic stroll through Ghent’s Lightplan, a gentleman here was playing Adele’s Make you feel my love and it was just perfect!!!!!

Just beside this are the Belfry, St.Bavo’s Cathedral and St.Nicholas Church. From here before heading to St.Michael’s Church is the St.Michael’s Bridge or Sint-Michielsbrug. This is a stunning viewing point from where all the 3 major towers that form the skyline of Ghent are beautifully visible - St.Nicholas Church, St.Bavo’s Cathedral and the Belfry. 

Not just that, on either sides, the beauty of River Lys with the streets Graslei and Koronlei on either sides and the gorgeous facades of the buildings, it’s just a thing of beauty!!! Graslei and Korenlei were a buzz of economic activity since 1200s when the river was the transportation system for grains! At the middle of the bridge is the bronze sculpture of St.Michael himself! 
The next stop was obviously St.Michael’s Church, but before that we headed to Subway for a sandwich and obviously bought some Belgian fries for lunch. When you’re here don’t miss Cuberdons - a little sweet. It’s just divine with its hard shell and fruity jelly filling. For its funny nose like shape it is known as Neuzekes i.e. Little Noses… Buy food from anywhere, just site on the banks of River Lys and have it, it’s just so nice!!!

On the way to Gravensteen is the Design Museum which I saw the next day. It is more of a modern art display and when I went there was also a temporary textile exhibition going on. My next stop was over to Gravensteen Castle of the Counts. Quite a few boat trips operate from this point. It’s a must to take it! All these places look so different when you look at them from the water… Here’s also the Great Butcher’s Hall which dates back to 15th C since when it has been used for the same purpose!!! 
Opposite to Gravensteen is Sint Veerleplein which has a street light. Observe this. It might suddenly blink and then switch off!!! Reason - The light is connected to the maternity wards of all the hospitals in Ghent and when this flashes, it means a child is born somewhere in Ghent!!!! It’s the brainchild of artist Alberto Garutti titled Ai Nati Oggi (“For Those Born Today”). 

Other museums in this locality are Huis van Alijn (Folklore Museum), Industrial Textile Muesum (MIAT) and Arnold Vander Haeghen Museum. Rest of the museums are in the Arts Quarter. From here I headed to the UNESCO Site Klein Begijnhof OLV Ter Hoyen before wrapping up the day and later set off at night again form the Illuminated Walk!
Early next morning began with Rabot located just beyond the Historical City Centre. This reminded me of Pont Des Trous in Tournai. Built in 1491 CE, this was the original site of where a riot in the canal de Lieve happened. Also called Three Toorekens, this was once a part of the city’s fortification wall. Today only this remains. Very close to this is the Old St.Elizabeth Beguinage
Very close to the Ghent River Hotel is the VrijdagMarkt which has its own history since 1199 CE, where public events, celebrations, etc happened as well as some executions as well! Bang at its centre today is the sculpture of Jacob Van Artevelde who’s considered the leader of Ghent’s insurgents, who stood against the English and became the Hero of Ghent! Here’s also an iron canon that dates back to 1431 CE! 
I wrapped day 2 on the other direction of the city outskirts, close to Gent Dampoort station with another UNESCO site Groot Behjinhof Sint-Amandsberg. On the way are the Castle of Gerald the Devil and St.Bavo’s Abbey which I missed. 

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).

Timings & Entry Ticket: 
Refer to my earlier posts for Belfry, Beguinages, St.Bavo's Cathedral, St.Michael's Church, Gravensteen.
Graffiti Street, City Pavilion, St.Michael's Bridge, Great Butcher's Hall, Sint Veerleplein, VrijdagMarkt - Free & Open 24 hrs.
Town Hall guided tour - €10; 2:00PM to 4:00PM Everyday in summers & Saturday only in winters.
Design Museum - €8; 10:00AM to 5:30PM, Wednesday closed
Huis van Alijn, Industrial Textile Muesum - €6;  10:00AM to 5:00PM, Wednesday closed
Arnold Vander Haeghen Museum - €6; 2:30PM to 5:00PM only on Fridays & Saturdays
St.Bavo's Abbey - Free; No fixed pattern of timings. Refer visitgent
Guided Boat Tour: €7
Entry to all museums, guided boat tour are included in City Card Ghent All in.

My complete Gent travelogue: Illuminated night walkBelfry & BeguinagesGravensteen Castle of the CountsSt.Bavo’s Cathedral & St.Michael’s Cathedral

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.

23 comments:

  1. Wow Ghent looks so beautiful from your lens. My mom ill absolutely love it as she has just returned from Belgium. A quick treat for her by showing her your post. :)

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  2. It is so amazing to be able to explore two different aspects of a city. I think you made a great choice with the historic center too. I love arts, but I find more joy exploring historical buildings and monuments.

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  3. Thanks as usual for a detailed and informative post. great pictures. the city hall is such an awesome building loved it.

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  4. Wow! This is really a place with so much fun. Thanks for sharing. Hope to visit it one day!

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  5. Some gorgeous architecture in this area. Would love to visit Ghent, it looks like a fantastic place to explore. Thanks for sharing, i need to plan my next trip!

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  6. The cuberdons look cute and yummy! Like a sweet treat while exploring. The historic city part looks amazing!

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  7. Belgium is in the works for me to go and visit in March/April 2018 and I most definitely will be heading to Ghent. Had no idea this city was so artistic !! Love knowing little bits of information like the flickering light when a child is born !

    Also, the pianos! The sound must be so good! You're quite lucky to have gotten the chance to hear someone play Adele - must've been a magical moment! (I'm a little softy for moments like that!)

    x

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  8. Wow, it looks like there's so much to see here. I'd love to spend time on Graffiti Street - I think you can tell a lot about a place from its street art. And I would definitely want to visit the Design Museum and have some of those cute little sweets!

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  9. Wow, great travel photography! You truly let us see into how much you enjoyed your trip!

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  10. That art wall totally has our name all over it, they really bring out the best in a city! A river walk seems like a great way to see plenty of the city here. Doesn't look like a huge action and adventure town, but definitely worth a visit for sure!

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  11. I said in Ghent for a week last year and totally fell in love with the quiet charm of the city. Reading your post and looking at your photos really took me back. I miss the cobbled streets and the medieval vibes. Citadel park was a favorite of mine :) Lovely post!

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  12. You presented Ghent in a beautiful manner, I'm wondering before reading your post I was not even aware of the name of the place. Those Cuberdons looks so juicy, I wish I could try one and its interesting how anyone can paint walls as per their wish and use it as canvas.

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  13. The cuberdons would really be something I'd love to me as my sweets. The place looks really rich in heritage and it feels as is you went out of the time machine and went into the earlier times.

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  14. Ghent is such a beautiful place to visit. The Artistic Quarter looks so colorful and beautiful. The architecture in this area are so stunning. Also the cuberdons looks so adorable and tasty.

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  15. I am glad visiting your blog because reading your travel posts makes me feel I am travelling too. The graffiti street is very interesting, perfect for ootd photos.

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  16. With your series on Ghent, you have convinced me that I should really try to visit this beautiful city. I would really like to try that local sweet candy that you described as well.

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  17. This is probably the 5th article I have read recently about Ghent! Although I did not get to go when I was in Belgium, I will definitely be back! Would love to take a tour down Graffiti street!

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  18. Love these buildings and architecture in Belgium. Those little hard candies with jelly centers look delectable!

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  19. What a dainty place! I loved the wall in your first pic - so instagram-worthy and cuberdons are so cute.

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  20. Oh my god! Someone please take me to Belgium! This place looks so beautiful!

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  21. I remember visiting the historic center of Ghent, I kept my energy levels up by enjoying Belgian Waffles with Nutella! I missed the cuberdons though, these looks super sugary! I also missed walking down graffiti street. I love Ghent!

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  22. Ghent is already on my mind from a long time, I missed Brussels when I was in Paris last. I guess I'll have to make a trip specifically to belgium especially after seeing your post.
    I love historical sites, and Ghent seems to have a lot of it, and the art street..just stunning, and not to forget as expected amazing architecture. Being a person who loves sweets, Cuberdons seems like must-try - I even like their shape..Ha :D

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