Ghent and Surroundings
‘The historic heart of Flanders’, ‘a city of all ages’, ‘Mediaeval Manhattan’ and ‘Europe’s best-kept secret’: the nicknames Ghent has collected over the years are as colourful as the city itself. Walk through the center of Ghent and you will immediately see why it has won so many tourism prizes. Nowhere else can you flit so quickly from the 14th to the 21st century and back again, without feeling out-of-place for a minute.
Belgium’s fourth-largest city is home to a quarter of a million people and a flourishing flower export trade. An important port, Ghent’s city center is a pedestrian area that is like a museum to early Flemish architecture and a testament to the city’s medieval might. Impressive Gothic sites, such as dramatic St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Castle of the Counts, inspire awe.
10 Memorable Landmarks & Must-Dos in Ghent
1) Discover life in mediaeval Ghent at Gravensteen
Also known as the “Castle of the Counts” in Dutch, this incredible structure was built in 1180. Today it houses the Arms Museum and the Museum of Judicial Objects. These display various weapons used in warfare and other contraptions used for punishment and torture during medieval times. Interesting items include the guillotine and “Mask of Shame”. Not for the faint-hearted! To conclude your visit, make sure you go to the rooftop for views of the city and one of the few places you can see the 4 Mediaeval Towers of Ghent piercing the skyline.
2) Admire the picturesque St Michael’s Bridge (Sint-Michielshelling)
St. Michael’s Bridge is the only spot where the Mediaeval Towers of Ghent – St Nicholas’ Church (Sint Niklaaskerk), the Belfry of Ghent and St Bavo’s Cathedral are all aligned for a great photo opportunity. Bring your camera!
3) Marvel at the beauty of St Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal)
This historic 11th-century icon in Ghent is where Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor) was baptized! It is also where you’ll find The world-famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. The significance of this altarpiece is definitely a reason to visit as it was painted by the great masters Hubert and Jan van Eyck around 1432. Unfortunately, the ‘Just Judges’ panel was stolen in 1934 and is yet to be found. Take a closer look and find out more about the Ghent Altarpiece.
4) Spot the iconic Ghent Belfry (Belfort)
The UNESCO World Heritage Ghent Belfry is the tallest building in Belgium. Climb to the top for magnificent views and to see the copper dragon that has been watching over the city and guarding the Belfry since the 14th century!
5) Enjoy the sights along Graslei & Korenlei
Arguably the most beautiful place in the city, the Graslei (Grass Quay) and Korenlei (Corn Quay) lie at the very heart of Ghent. These quays stretch along the Leie river with Graslei and its unique medieval buildings on the right bank, Korenlei along the left. It’s considered one of the oldest locations in Ghent and it is a popular meeting place with many café’s to be enjoyed today.
6) Try Local Belgian Beers
Beer is renowned in Belgium and there are thousands to try. So, even if you aren’t a beer drinker, you’re still going to love this. That may sound contradictory, but in Ghent after one sip of a Lindeman’s Apple beer, you’ll understand. There are a variety of fruity flavors such as Raspberry (Framboise), Peach (Pêcheresse), and Cherry (Kriek) that don’t even taste like beer!
7) Go shopping amongst stunning architecture in Patershol
Patershol is a picturesque neighborhood near the Castle of the Counts dotted with restaurants and boutique specialty shops. The cobblestone alleys here have remained unchanged since medieval times which makes you feel like you’re lost in a fairytale – Feel the Magic!
8) Discover a different perspective of Ghent on a canal cruise
Canal cruises are a must in Ghent as they are a wonderful way to see and learn about the city from a local perspective. There are a few locations over the city where you can just hop on board and your captain doubles as your guide. Simply choose a location, pay for your ticket, wait for the next boat, and enjoy!
9) Enjoy a drink or meal at Vrijdagmarkt
“Vrijdagmarkt” translates to Friday Market because market stalls have been hosted here each Friday since the 12th century. Talk about a tradition! Today, Vrijdagmarkt is a meeting point for locals and visitors alike. Check out the buildings on the square and see if you can find one of the skinniest buildings in Ghent! Vrijdagmarkt has a buzzing atmosphere, especially in the late afternoon with cozy Belgian pubs and restaurants in abundance. Be sure to try a traditional Flemish dish, “waterzooi”. This delicious meal originated in Ghent and is a Belgian delicacy!
10) Magical Ghent by Night
As evening falls, the daylight in Ghent does not simply make way for the streetlights. There is light art to enjoy as well. Streets, squares, and buildings are covered in an artistic light display. It is almost as though the city were getting dressed up for the theatre. The effect is awe-inspiring. Discover Ghent Alight and immerse yourself in this delightful evening experience!
Our Cultural Activities
The following free time activities are included in the price of the courses in Ghent:
- one guided tour of the city
- one full-day excursion (on Saturday)
Our guided tour: the ultimate get-to-know Ghent!
Ready for a dive into Ghent’s past? You will be amazed by the fascinating history, art and culture. Combine the tour with a visit to the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. A medieval castle, graceful houses, medieval towers, world-famous art treasures as well as modern street art, charming squares, and markets full of goodies: in the city center all attractions are side by side. Find out why the citizens of Ghent are called ‘noose-bearers’. Stroll through the ever-changing graffiti alley or admire our wonderful medieval harbor. Your guide revives the astonishing history of the city with stories on Emperor Charles V, the gold-plated dragon on the Belfry and so much more…
Our full-day excursion: Bruges, picture-perfect
When one imagines Belgium, they often are thinking of Bruges. Canals loop across the town like a string of pearls, creating the well-earned moniker of ‘the Venice of the North’. With cobblestone paths, brick archways, stone churches, and quaint bridges, it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photograph. The addition of swans on the water, horse-drawn carriages in the lanes, and daffodils in the park make it nearly magical.
Listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bruges has the best-preserved example of a medieval city center, with its bell tower overlooking the wide-open market. With the center closed off to cars, all the stunning beauty and culture of this unforgettable city can be easily explored on foot, although a boat ride along the quiet canals is something not to be missed.
While a small city, to truly uncover the many pleasures around each corner, from lace boutiques and chocolate shops to architectural and historical treasures, give yourself plenty of time to get happily lost.
About the Training Centre in Ghent
All our courses in Ghent will take place either in the Morning (9:00 13:45) or in the Afternoon (14:00 – 18:45) depending on classroom and trainer availability.
Further information on our academy will be provided after the confirmation of the course.