Here are some suggestions for our day trip to Ghent. You will probably spend alot of time taking photos of the elaborately decorated buildings, and the urban architecture which dates back to the 13th century. But there are few other things that you should not miss!
Gravensteen Castle is a 12th Century castle built for the count of Flanders. The castle has been sensationally restored to its former glory after operating for a short time as a cotton mill. The interior may somewhat lack furnishings but makes up for this with a guillotine and suits of armor. If you want to see what the castle was like all those years ago, there is a slightly silly costume drama set in many of the castles rooms and battlements. For the best photo of the castle from afar, try St Widostraat.
The MSK art gallery is housed in what looks much like an Ancient Greek temple. The artwork will remind you that you are still in Belgium due to the great collection of from Dutch and Belgian artists. The works range from as early as the 14th century up until the 20th century. English language notes are available for each piece.
A well hidden area with many great restaurants, the Patershol district is the former location where leather tradesmen operated in Ghent. The winding cobbled streets and houses haven’t much changed from that time and are a great way to experience what Ghent was like many years ago. All that exploring is bound to make you hungry and, luckily, Patershol is home to a number of good restaurants including t’ Klaverblad which serves French cuisine and is probably the best place to eat in Ghent.
The Belfort dates back to the 14th century and has a dragon on top of the tower sculpted in the form of a weathervane. If you want to make the climb to the top, you will see two more dragons on the way up. There is also an exhibition of bell making, but the real attraction for most people that visit the Belfort is the beautiful view.
Make sure to also see Ghent’s Cloth Hall. Construction began in the mid 15th century but was not completed until 1903! The Friday Market Square gets its name from the weekly market that still takes place every Friday. It was once the city’s favorite entertainment spot for public executions and important city meetings. The cafes all around the square provide great vantage points for admiring the statue of Ghent’s famous leader, Artevelde who was fiercely anti-French. Nearby is a so-called super cannon, because of the large 250kg balls, was one of the biggest siege cannons constructed in the Middle Ages.
The Water Tram For a unique tour of the city, take Ghent’s hop on-hop off water tram. There are six stops on the route, including the Castle of the Counts and St Peters Abbey. Not only does the tram get you from A to B, but it is a great way to see some the sights of Ghent, and relax at the same time.