A walk through the historical center of Belgian City Ghent

Ghent is a medieval gem half an hour train journey from the Belgian capital Brussels. Tourists usually give Ghent a miss lured by the enticing aura of the city of Bruges. The first glimpse of Ghent as soon as we walked out of the station didn’t impress us either especially after a remarkable Bruges visit. We collected the route map and headed towards the historical center of Ghent.

The historical center of Ghent is a couple of km away from the train station and is well connected by public transport. We decided to walk all the way to the historic center inquisitive of the hidden gems we may explore on the way.

Walking through the streets of Ghent towards the historical center is like walking back in time. As we get closer to the historical center the concrete buildings, wide lanes, and the trendy cafe, bars recede into a car-free zone surrounded by splendid architecture.

The historical center dominates the city skyline with three medieval towers of St Nicholas’ Church, the Belfry, and the St Bavo’s Cathedral.

St Nicholas’ Church

The magnificent church constructed of the blue-gray stone from the Tournai area was built in the location of an earlier Romanesque church. A single large tower is situated at the crossing of the church and is flanked by turrets at the corners.

Day trip to Ghent

St Bavo’s Cathedral

The cathedral with an imposing tower is noted for the Ghent Altarpiece also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb and is one of the greatest masterpieces of art. The cathedral houses several prominent paintings, sculptures and carved tombs.


Through several centuries, the belfry had served as a watchtower guarding the city and a place where the important municipal documents were kept. An elevator can be taken to the Belfry’s upper gallery to see the bells and remarkable panoramic views of the city.

Day trip to Ghent

Ghent Town Hall

The imposing town hall of Ghent showcasing a wonderful blend of gothic and renaissance architecture styles is one of the stunning buildings in Ghent. The cobblestone square around the town hall had lively ambiance with people lazing and kids running around. Chhavi too had her share of fun with other toddlers frolicking around the square.

Day trip to Ghent

The different architecture styles of the town hall can easily be noticed in the picture below. The most striking feature of the town hall is the gothic style marriage chapel adorned with beautiful stained glass windows.

Day trip to Ghent

Our next stop was the  Sint-Jacobskerk church which is one of the oldest church in Ghent. We were by now exhausted and hungry. We stood at the junction and started scouring through the map to reckon the shortest route to the castle.

Day trip to Ghent

The square at the entrance of the church was jam-packed with tourists. We followed a throng of tourists walking into a narrow alley around the corner of the square. The alley was chock-a-block with tourists, souvenir shops, quaint colorful houses, and the cafes.

The narrow lane opened up into a huge square Vrijdagmarkt dominated by a statue of the Flemish political leader Jacob van Artevelde in the center. It is one of the oldest square surrounded with many outdoor cafes which makes it a favorite meeting point. The square is the busiest every Friday when the weekly Flea markets are set up.

Day trip to Ghent

We walked onto a street parallel to the square and were awestruck by the by the invigorating aura. A faint peppy song wafted through the air of the bustling square. The glistening emerald waters of the River Leie drifted through the canals lined with outdoor restaurants, shops, cafes and the exuberant crowds relishing the amazing vistas.

Day trip to Ghent

We decided to soothe our hunger pangs in one of the restaurants at the end of the bridge on the other side of the canal. ‘Soup Lounge’ serves a choice of hot soups, bread, salads and fresh fruits. The menu was just right for us tired of munching on potato fries for most of the trip. The healthy and delicious soup turned out to be little Chhavi’s favorite too.

Gravensteen castle or the Castle of the Counts

After scrumptious lunch, we followed the map to the last attraction on our list – the iconic landmark of the historical center, the Gravensteen castle or the Castle of the Counts. The stone castle dates back to 12th century and houses an armory collection and a recreated torture chamber. The climb up to the top ramparts rewards with superb views of Ghent city.

Day trip to Ghent

The city of Ghent is popularly known as a hipster city which leaves us in a deep wonderment at the city where the modern and the medieval times co-exist in a sheer harmony. Do you agree?

Have you been to Ghent? Do you think we have missed out something? Please share your views in comments.

You may also like: Night Walk through the illuminated Ghent

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27 Comment

  1. Sofia says: Reply

    Lovely! I stopped off in Bruges instead on my last trip to Belgium – will definitely visit Ghent the next time 🙂 Great post!

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Thank you Sofia. I know tourists generally prefer Bruges as a day trip from Belgium and We loved Bruges too. But Ghent has its own charm with a melange of old and new and is worth a visit. Keep us updated if you could plan to visit Ghent 🙂

  2. Dannie says: Reply

    I always love reading people’s recounts of walking tours or walks they do on their own through historical areas of cities. They’re honestly my favorite part of visiting a new place. I love learning the history of were I am, taking a moment to understand where this new place gets it roots so I can appreciate where it has grown. Ghent looks absolutely stunning. These photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Thanks Dannie for your valuable viewpoints. Walking tours are our favorite too we always look to explore a city like a local and that is possible only on foot 🙂

  3. David says: Reply

    Ghent is such a pretty place, I love the old buildings and the architecture. Walking tour is also something that I would love to take, never been on one before. You made stunning photos 🙂

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Thanks David. Glad you liked the pictures. Ghent is a lovely place indeed with beautiful architecture 🙂 Walking tours are great to experience the hidden gems of any city/town.

  4. Denisa says: Reply

    I always love reading your blog and your latest travel adventures and this this is a heartfelt post because I love Ghent, is one of my favorite weekend getaways !

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      That’s great to know Denisa. You must be then well aware with nook and cranny of the Ghent town. It is a beautiful place indeed and worth visit.

  5. Nice pics, it’s great fro someone who has never been to Belgium to see how pretty it really is. Ghent already in my travel list. Great post.

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Thanks Argell.. Glad you found our post informative. Happy Travelling!

  6. I love that Ghent is so hipster it kinda reminds me of Shoreditch/ Dalston at the moment and I like the sound of the soup lounge. The architecture of the Romanesque church is breathtaking too!

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      True Ana.. Ghent architecture is remarkable indeed and the soup was delicious 😉

  7. I haven’t been to Belgium but would love to visit. Ghent looks so pretty, I love cities that have amazing history and architecture. Great post!

    Rosie | http://www.rosieromance.com

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      True Rosie.. Ghent is an awesome place with great history and worth a visit.

  8. suchi says: Reply

    stunner pics! Ghent looks so beautiful! definitely on my list!:)

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Thanks Suchi for stopping by 😉

  9. Oh my gosh! you were in Belgium 🙂 Welcome !!!
    This is probably one of the prettiest city of the country 🙂

    1. GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      Undoubtedly Florence.. We have travelled through so many beautiful towns of Belgium and we are sure there are many more to cover 🙂

  10. The cathedrals and churches look lovely. The canals make the city look so romantic! Ghent, being such a small town, packs so much of history and nature …I am sure you had a good time!

  11. I think this is actually the first time I’ve actually read about Ghent! Thanks for sharing your experience – the architecture looks fabulous, and that huge drooping tree over the water is so pretty!

  12. Kreete says: Reply

    The castles, churches and the architecture is all looking magnificent. You captured it very well with your camera! It’s so nice to see couples with young children travelling! It reassures me that if you really want to travel, you’ll always find a way. Thanks for sharing your story of Ghent!

  13. Oh this Belgian city is certainly beautiful. I love the architectures as well as the clean surrounding. I would love to put this in my bucket list for future.

  14. I was in Ghent few months back for just a few hours. It is a gorgeous little town and we had fun walking around. However I did not get time to visit the castle. Had to be content seeing it from the outside.

  15. Ivy says: Reply

    I’ve never been to Belgium but I’ve heard wonderful things about Ghent. I love the architecture here and the canal! We like exploring on foot too so this guide will come in handy when we visit one day 🙂

  16. Love the way you tell about Belgian city. It’s amazing information of the places with wonderful pics. I’ve never gone there before. Noted it!

  17. I have never been here! We passed through Belgium on a busabout trip but I didn’t get to see much! I did enjoy a scrumptious doughnut though!! Will have to get back here sometime so we can visit Ghent!

  18. Joaquim Miro says: Reply

    Never thought Belgium had such nice churches as well. I will definitely keep that in mind when I go visit!

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