One Day In Ghent

Almost anyone traveling in Belgium has visited Bruges, which is undeniably one of the most romantic cities in the world, but Ghent is worth your time as well. Dating back to the 1100’s, this city’s Gothic architecture, medieval neighborhoods and food scene are enough to entertain you for days. We had less than eight hours.

The City Center is just a short, scenic walk from the Central Train depot. Begin your tour there by choosing one of several street cafes to get your day started with coffee and Belgian waffles, of course. If you are as fascinated with beautiful doors as I am, you will be enchanted along the way. This was the first of many sightings and is my humble offering to Norm, the grand poobah at Thursday doors.

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Even without a jolt of very strong coffee, you cannot miss the imposing presence of St. Bavo’s Cathedral. This magnificent structure isn’t just another pretty face on the landscape of Ghent, it has substance, as well. The world famous masterpiece, “Mystic Lamb” painted by the Van Eyck Brothers and completed in 1432 is housed here, along with many other significant artifacts and tombs of Bishops. The painting has been through many restorations and one panel, (the Just Judges) which was stolen in 1934, is a reproduction.

This 12th Century Romanesque church was originally dedicated to John the Baptist. In the Fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, it was converted to this stately Gothic Cathedral and remains the majestic centerpiece of Ghent.

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Alter of St. Bavo’s Cathedral


Mystic Lamb. Read the interesting history behind the world’s most famous painting here.

From City Center, hop a tram heading in the opposite direction from the Cathedral and get off at Gravensteen, (Castle of the Counts), which was built in 1180 as a display of wealth and power, (weren’t they all). Count Philip of Alsace reigned over the region from 1157 until his death in battle in 1191. The museum houses weapons of war and devices of torture unlike anything you have ever seen – unless you watch Game of Thrones.  The displays are all encased in glass and have numbers which correspond to descriptions on a card that you may pick up at the entry.  Don’t miss the walk to the top of the battlement and enjoy a great view of the city. Entry fee 10 Euro.

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The photo on the left is the under garment for the suite of armor on the right. It was made of woven metal. Can you even imagine???

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View from atop Castle of the Counts

Just a short walk from the castle you will find Patershol, which best represents the construction of villages in the dark ages. Today, it is a foodie paradise, with restaurants tucked into centuries old buildings along vary narrow passages.


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Get lost among the many shops and restaurants as you wind your way toward the canal and these amazing views.

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Boat, bike, walk or trolley yourself through this beautiful city – it really doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it!

Suggestion: Situate yourself in Brussels, Bruges or Ghent for up to one full week, and tour the surrounding areas by train. We stayed at the Warwick hotel in Brussels for three nights and took day trips to Bruges and Ghent, devoting one day to each of the three cities. More about Bruges and Brussels in a later post.

About Suzanne@PictureRetirement

Writing about life as a retiree - travel, photography, health and fitness
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20 Responses to One Day In Ghent

  1. Gilda Baxter says:

    Wow you managed to see a lot in a short time, looks like it is a very compact and walkable city. Very charming place indeed 🙂


  2. Suzanne says:

    Gilda, Ghent is very walkable, and if you get tired you can always hop on the local tram which runs through the city. We are very happy with the experience we had, but one more day would have been perfect.


  3. On my bucket list now, thanks for your lovely photos and post. The thought of that undergarment chaffing made me itch. 🙂


  4. Jane Maunus says:

    Stunning photos! Enjoyed those and the narrative.


  5. Oh, I want to go there!! 🙂 I always think of Robert Browning’s poem when I see anything about Ghent ( as well as the name of the road we exit onto to visit my s-i-l in Akron, Ohio, two very different associations.



  6. Norm 2.0 says:

    So much beauty and history. Another place to add to the ever-growing list 😀
    Thanks for the tour.


  7. Suzanne says:

    Janet, I do hope you will go to Ghent one day. It is a wonderful city.


  8. Dan Antion says:

    That is such a beautiful cathedral. I’m glad you included some shots from inside.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    The things I remember about Brussels are the overcast skies, the lace and the chocolate. In all my hedonistic endeavors I missed the churches!


    • Suzanne says:

      They are all still there, overcast skies, lace and lots of chocolate. After a while in Europe the churches all start to look alike, so it’s just as well you missed them.


  10. What a lovely city! I would definitely want multiple days there to explore all the nooks and crannies… and side streets. Thanks for the tip!


  11. Joanne Sisco says:

    You’ve just given me another reason to visit Belgium. I’ve read nothing but wonderful things about this lovely little country. I had no idea the richness of its history had survived the 2 wars. My maternal grandfather came from Belgium and his entire family lived and died there, so I have a lot of personal reasons to go some day.


  12. Been there, done that, and enjoyed every single minute of it. It is hard to explain even with your lovely photos the beauty of the country. It is a wonderful place to tour.


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