12 Architectural Gems in Ghent, Belgium that You Have to See


Visiting the flamboyant city of Ghent – once hinted by Vogue Magazine as one of Europe’s best-kept secrets – can be compared to a treasure hunt: you’ll stumble upon various abbeys, churches, castles, historic monuments, architectural landmarks, UNESCO recognized sites, and museums spread across the city – making it easy to create a unique photograph.

Our Favorite Architectural landmarks in Ghent

Ghent is filled with picturesque houses, medieval landmarks, modern state-of-the-art public buildings, and other architectural landmarks. That’s why we take a look at the most distinct ones that are definitely worth visiting!

New Zebra

Address: Gustaaf Callierlaan 232, 9000 Gent

Being a zoo in the 19th century, the Zebrastraat in Ghent was converted into the first worker housing building in the country in 1906.

In 2013, the new construction project “New Zebra” was built, known for its striking bent facade.

The image below of New Zebra was provided to us by local Instagrammer @irenebeaufays.

De Vooruit

Address: Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, 9000 Gent

De Vooruit is a Banquet hall, build in 1913 by a socialist cooperation, meant for workers to eat, drink, and enjoy culture at democratic prices.

After the Second World War, the building was repurposed as an art center that houses a cinema, a party hall, a restaurant, and a café.

The building itself got recognized as a monument in 1983 and won the 2000 “Vlaamse monumentenprijs” after renovations. This prize honors a project with important accomplishments to monuments in Flanders.

I have to give a big thank you to a local Ghent guide who provided a bunch of great images to help this article out, including the next one. You can find him on Instagram or at his website.

This next image of De Vooruit comes from Yannis Vanhee.

Great Butcher’s Hall

Address: Groentenmarkt 7, 9000 Ghent

The Great Butcher’s Hall (“Vleeshuis”) is located in the heart of Ghent city.

The building dates back to the 15th century and is currently used as the Center for the Promotion of the Regional Products of East Flanders including an in-house restaurant. This means you’ll be able to find many Belgian specialties like chocolates, local beer, and other delights.

The next 2 images of Vleeshuis are also from tour guide @gidsingent.

This next image with great reflections was provided by local Instagrammer Pati.

The below night shot of Groot Vleeshuis was provided by photographer Vkt Ketels.

Sint-Baafsabdij

Address: Voorhoutkaai 43, 9000 Gent

Saint Bavo’s Abbey is a former abbey, founded in the 7th century by Saint Amand.

The Abbey has a history of raids since it was repeatedly attacked by Vikings. Ultimately, Charles V ordered his troops in 1540 to demolish large parts of the abbey, leaving the ruins that we can find today.

The next 4 images of Sint-Baafsabdij are also from tour guide @gidsingent.

Another view of the interior was provided in the next image from photographer Gabriela.

St Bavo’s Cathedral

Address: Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Gent

The Saint Bavo Cathedral is an 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral.

The Cathedral is as much an art museum as a Cathedral; It contains a rare art collection, with items such as “Ghent Altarpiece” by Jan Van Eyck, and “The Conversion of Saint Bavo,” a major work by Peter Paul Rubens.

This beautiful shot of St. Bavo’s was provided to us by photographer Garben. Be sure to check out his Instagram for more great images.

Another great image of the Cathedral comes from local landscape photographer Mathias.

Belfry of Ghent

Address: Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Gent

As the tallest belfry in Belgium, the Belfry of Ghent is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, as “one of the belfries of Belgium and France”.

The 91-meter-tall Belfry of Ghent is just one of three medieval towers that overlook the city center of Ghent. The other two belfries belong to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church.

The beautiful image below was provided by Instagrammer Navdha.

Portus Ganda

Address: Veermanplein 2, 9000 Gent

Portus Ganda – named after Ghent’s original name – is one of the yacht moorings in Ghent, located less than 1km from the Ghent city center.

The Marina opened in 2005 and ensured that the neighborhood has been brought back to its full glory with cozy terraces and a beautiful restored art-deco swimming pool to this part of Ghent.

The following image of Portus Ganda was provided by Jasmine Coen.

Gent-Sint-Pieters Railway Station

Address: Kon. Maria Hendrikaplein 1, 9000 Gent

Gent-Sint-Pieters is a railway station in Ghent, built-in 1912 for the 1913 World Exhibition which was held in Ghent. The station was built in an eclectic style and is currently being renovated and extended with a new roof over the platforms.

The railway station is also the 4th busiest station in Belgium with over 17.65 million passengers a year.

This beautiful night image of the Railway Station comes from Leyasu B. Desu.

Stadshal

Address: Poeljemarkt, 9000 Gent

Ghent’s city center is a treasure map filled with historical landmarks, however, it has been building new – modern – structures as well.

The Stadshal (or “Town Hall”) was designed in 2012 by the partnership of Robbrecht and Daem and Marie-José Van Hee to serve as a modern covered hall for concerts and events. The walls and roof are clad in wood, and there are 1,400 windows in the walls and roof.

The building has its critics, but it has also won several architectural prizes for its daring design.

You can see the cool building in the shot below from Maria Kotseli.

De Krook Library

Address: Miriam Makebaplein 1, 9000 Gent

Next to the new Stadshal, Ghent has another new phenomenal landmark: De Krook!

Their ‘new’ public library is actually a city within a city, built by Coussée & Goris and their Spanish partner RCR Arquitectes.

Next to the library itself, the building contains a café, a special staircase, a part of the city’s university, a technology company, and even the local radio station.

Photographer Ann Standaert brings us the following image of De Krook.

To drive in how great this building is at night, here is another image showing off the library. This shot comes from photographer Niels Vanhee.

Even if you can’t make it at night, De Crook is still worth the visit with all the unique facets of the building, as you can see in the image below from Anne-V.

Gravensteen Castle

Address: Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Gent

Gravensteen – also known as “Castle of the Counts” – is the only existing medieval fortress in Flanders that is still around, making it Ghent’s most important tourist attraction.

The castle was built in 1180 and served as a residence for earls until the 14th century, afterward it was repurposed as a prison and court. Currently, it houses 2 museums; a weapon museum and a court museum (filled with torture devices used to get confessions).

Our first image of Gravensteen Castle comes from Kendrick Goos.

The image of Gravensteen below was provided by photographer Viajando Ando.

This next image of the castle comes from Louise Huysmans.

For a different view of the castle, in the image below, we can thank Cynthia van Vroenhoven.

Saint Michael’s Church

Address: Sint-Michielsplein, 9000 Gent

Saint Michael’s Church was built in 1828 with a gothic style and is known for its monumental tower and the interior decoration.

The tower of the church was planned to be over 134 meters high, but during the construction in 1828, they decided to finish it at 24 meters due to budget issues and being behind schedule.

The church itself contains a lot of cultural treasures, from marble statues and baroque paintings to silver and gold artifacts.

The below image of the church was provided by Instagrammer Oscar Around The World.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our list of top architectural places in Ghent. If you have any spots you think we missed or if you want to share some pictures or experiences from these locations, please add them in our Facebook Group!

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