Gent Attractions Guide

Some of Ghent’s main attractions are: The Gravensteen Castle From the Dutch word meaning “castle of the count”, Gravensteen was built in the 12th century. It is constructed over the original wooden castles erected there and was inspired by the buildings from the Crusades. It has fallen into decay when the royal inhabitants moved away. Ever since, it served as several things including a prison and a cotton textile plant. After restoration, it is now a museum where accounts of prison life and displays of torture devices are shown. St. Bavo’s Cathedral Built at the site of an old demolished church, St. Bavo’s Cathedral started construction in the 14th century and finished in the 16th century. It is named after a nobleman who gave away his possessions to the poor and joined a monastery and was later on canonized as a saint. It houses a replica of the famous painting “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by Jan and Hubert van Eyck. Other art pieces found inside are the baroque pulpit, the tombstone of Bishop Triest, and the painting “St. Bavo Entering the Monastery”. The Belfry The Belfry Tower of Ghent first sounded for King Edward II of England. It was built in the 1300s and served as a symbol for the power of the city, military headquarters, and watchtower. It also has a treasury room where documents and other important artifacts are kept and restored. There used to be stone soldiers erected at the four corners of the belfry. Over time, these were destroyed so the last one was transferred to the treasury for safekeeping. There are four live guards at present in those posts that have to sound horns every hour to signify that the city is still being guarded. Today, it dominates the skyline of Ghent along with the tower of St. Nicholas and the cathedral tower. Graslei and Korenlei These are the two streets that flank the former harbor of Ghent. Graslei means “herbs and vegetables street” while Korenlei means “wheat street”: the names denote the products that were traded and stored at these places. The oldest house at Graslei is the Spijker where wheat acquired from ships using the Ghent harbor was stored in case of shortages. Next to it are the Grain Counters Houses and the Angel – houses with attractive facades from the strong trade era of Ghent. Arguably the most beautiful one is the Free Sailors Guild House. The Friday Market This is a town square where every Friday a market is held, hence the name. In the middle of it stands a sculpture of Jacob van Artevelde, the hero of Ghent who led the revolution against the king of France. It was also here where King Edward II of England was crowned as king of France. Today, besides holding a market on Fridays, it serves as an attraction for tourists because of the beautiful medieval houses that surround it, one of which is the Little Tower where trade regulations are sometimes read aloud to people in the square.