08 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions and Things to Do in Ghent
1. Explore the Cornelius Canal area.
Sint-Michelsbrug leads to the Korenlei Canal, itself equipped with a fine frontage and offering a fine view of the better houses on the opposite bank of the Graslei.
While touring here, note the following houses: No. 15 is the site of the former Hof van Grothes (home of the Duke of Egmont), which dates from 1352 and is now replaced by a building with a neoclassical facade. 17-19, Hotel de Galenque.
Next to Cornelius is No. 7 Gildehuis der Honorege Schaefers (House of the Tide Boatmen), a Baroque building dating from 1739.
Also note the beautiful facade of No. 24, Lintworm en Krocht. It was a Romanesque palace from the 12th century that was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century.
2. Town Hall (Stadhuis)
Built over a long period of time, the magnificent Ghent City Hall combines a variety of architectural styles.
In the older part of the building at Hogport, completed in 1482 in the style of the Bruges Town Hall and containing the council chambers, the architects Rombout Keldermans and Dominic de Waghemaker built a new wing in the best late Gothic style, called . .
However, construction in this section, best seen from the corner of Hogwarts and Belfortstraat, was halted in 1539 due to religious disagreements.
Only a quarter of the original plan has been completed and only the Peace Hall (Pacificatiezaal; originally the courthouse for Keure, trustee of the city’s constitution) and the Marriage Chapel, both built in 1535.
It was not until the end of the 16th century that the work was resumed, so that the Bottermarkt faces in Renaissance style as does the upper floor throne room.
3. Museum of Fine Arts (Fur Sean Kunsten Museum)
The main focus of the collection here is painting spanning from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The central hall adjacent to the entrance hall contains eight beautiful wall tapestries from Brussels: three with motifs from the story of Darius (seventeenth century) and five with the theme “Victory of God” (1717).
On the left side of this hall are the old teachers. Room B features two works by Hieronymus Bosch: Bearing of the Cross and St. Hieronymus.
To the right of the tapestry room are paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly by Belgian artists.
The museum also hosts a variety of traveling exhibitions on loan from other world-class art museums.
4. Ghent City Museum (STAM)
Housed in the brick buildings of the Cistercian Abbey of Bijloke, Ghent Museum is one of the richest museums in Belgium and displays an impressive collection tracing the city’s heritage and culture in a unique historical setting.
Many rooms tell the story of Ghent historically, including jewelry, weapons, textiles, books, paintings, religious icons, and ceramics, enhanced by the latest multimedia displays.
The highlight of the museum is the 14th-century refectory with its unusual brick gable.
The interior walls are painted with frescoes, the last of which is a 10-meter-long painting of the Last Supper.
Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts a series of temporary exhibitions throughout the year which are held in the adjoining monastery building.
5. Visit the old market area.
The Old Market (Groentenmarkt) started life as a fish market and then as a vegetable market in the 18th century. During the Middle Ages, the Ghent Column stood here.
To the west of the market area is the tall Grote Valaishuis, a medieval covered meat market with a guild house, church and multiple roof gables. Construction began in 1406-1410 and was restored in 1912.
At the southern end of the Valaishuis is a Penschweischen (gut hut) where the entrails of slaughtered animals were given to the poor.
Today, the Vleeshuis building is a good restaurant, but even if you’re not hungry, you can visit the place to have a look inside.
6. Wiesmarkt and Cranleigh Building
Sint-Veerleplein no. The impressive Baroque building on 5 is the Old Fish Market, built in 1689 according to plans by Artus Quellin.
The gate metaphorically represents Neptune, Scheldt (male) and Lee (female).
To the northeast, the Cranleigh Canal adjoins Sint Wierleplein, all lined with elegant houses.
Immediately on the left is No. 1, Kranenburg, then the row of Houses de l’Isle (No. 3-11), built around 1500 in the Gothic Brabant style. No. 13, Market Inn Dan Blaken is a former fish store.
Next to Cranleigh is House No. 75, de Klok, which dates from the 17th century, with a spiral staircase and decorated with many allegorical inscriptions, and No. 79, Het Vliegend Hert, are 17th-century country houses in the Baroque style, decorated with fine carvings.
7. Passing through the ruins of St. Bavesabdeig.
In the eastern part of the city, above the Leie Canal through Slachthuisbrug, are the ruins of Sint-Baafsabdij, a monastery founded by Saint Amance in 630.
A gallery of late Gothic cloisters, an octagonal levatorium, and parts of the chapter house and refectory from the original cloister remain.
The dining hall is home to the Museum Stenen Voorwerpen (Museum of Stone Cutting and Sculpture) with its beautiful 12th-century Romanesque frescoes and containing medieval tombstones, bell-carvings, and 12th-12th century sculptures. There is an extraordinary collection of architectural artifacts dating back to the century. Also mosaic.
8. Museum Für Volkskunde
This former children’s hospital was completely restored in 1962 – founded in 1363 – and is one of the last remaining Gudschhausen Hospital in Belgium. These homes were created by wealthy families for the poor.
In the charming courtyard are 18 typically Flemish country cottages, all interconnected and now housing the very comprehensive Vorkskunde Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Flemish furniture, documents and everyday objects circa 1900. It provides a vivid picture of folk life.
Of particular interest are the restored workshops and living rooms, dining room, barbershop, cobbler’s workshop, apothecary’s shop, confectionery and candle making workshop.