Historic Walking Route in Ghent
Stunning and timeless, those are the two words that perfectly describe the city of Ghent. Walk the cobblestoned streets and be transported back into the medieval era, as there is so much to do in such a small amount of space. Come the summer months, the Belgian city shuts down for its annual cultural festival, Gentse Feetje, which brings a full force of festivity, performances, and people onto the streets for this joyous occasion. Ghent's historic buildings and vibrant culture (don’t forget the nightlife) draw many travelers to its doorsteps, competing with neighboring cities such as Brussels and Antwerp. From the century old murals at the Central Station to the centerpiece canal, Graslei, each structure holds a vivid piece of history. We'll take you to some of the famous spots and local favorites on the Historic Walking Route in Ghent.
- Route Name: Historic Walking Route in Ghent
- Duration: 1 Day
- Best by walking
- Highlights: Historic areas and City Center of Ghent, distinct architectural such as Saint Bavo's Cathedral, Stadhuis, and the Graslei
Check out some of our Travel Guides in Belgium complete with interactive spots, maps, pictures and local tips: "De leukste plekken van Antwerpen" by Hannah de Groot, "De lokale plekken van Brussel" & "Brussel samen met kinderen" by Go Marjo.
Route Name: Ghent Historic Walking Route
Start off at the iconic Saint Bavo's Cathedral on the Sint-Baafsplein, where the city was first conceived. The name Ghent comes from the word 'Ganda,' which means confluence as it sits between the Scheldt and Lys Rivers. The Cathedral went through a series of changes since the 11th century, then upgraded to a Romanques infrastructure in the 12th century, and finally reinventing itself with more Gothic features in the 14th and 16th century. In the square, you'll see the Belfry of Ghent, a towering structure that adds to the city;s skyline. Make your way along the small alley of Biezekapelstraat to Achtersikkel, where you can experience a serene courtyard surrounded by 14th and 15th-century buildings. There’s a great chance you might be serenaded by a beautiful violin busker from the Ghent's Music Academy.
As you walk down the Hoogpoort street, you'll a mending of architectural styles, such as the looming Ghent City Hall, Stadhuis, that combines Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. The city is always full of unexpected turns that will stretch your expectation and challenge your idea of an ‘ancient’ city. With the medieval backdrop, it may come as a surprise to you when you walk down the narrow alley way of Werregarenstraat, which is completely covered in vibrantly colored graffiti from local artists. A short walk from here, you’ll come to the historic Vrijdagmarkt, where the famous statue of Jacob Van Artevelde points towards England, referencing to a time when he lifted the British wool import sanctions and made Ghent’s economy thrive. This is where you can stop for a quick coffee break at one of the many cafes or restaurants. For a true Belgian experience, try a traditional Belgian beer from Tavern Dulle Griet, where they offer close to 250 Belgian beers.
Before crossing the Zuivelbrugstraat over the Leie, you'll come across a century old cannon that is an iconic part of the city. Once you've crossed the bridge, you'll be situated in the Patershol, a neighborhood with narrow and twisting alleyways with all kinds of restaurants from all corners of the world. Find you gastronomic pleasures here at t'Klolhuys, Restaurant Valentijn, or Amadeus. Along the river is the Huis van Alijn, a museum depicting a glimpse into the daily lives of men and women in the 20th century. Inside there is a nestled cafe, shop and courtyard to rest your traveling feet.
Continue onto one of the main features of Ghent, Gent Gravensteen, or Castle of the counts, one of the oldest medieval fortresses in Belgium that dates back to the late 12th century. It is an idyllic castle complete with a moat, a dungeon, and high stone walls. This historic castle has a more sinister side found within Museum of Judicial Objects, which tells a story of grueling torture mechanisms and methods between the 14th-18th century under the Council of Flanders and the Board of the Oudburg. From here, it's just a short walk to the Oude Vismarket (the Old Fish market) for some relaxing and rejuvenation in some of the quaint cafes and restaurants.
Before crossing the Sint-Michielsbrug, be sure to check out some classic dining experiences such as Balls and Glory, a restaurant that takes on traditional, hand-rolled Belgian meatballs to another level. There are dozens of flavors to choose from, and even vegetarian meatballs as well. There's also the hip space called Moor & Moor, a cross between healthy living and contemporary design, allowing you to browse its trendy grocery store or sit down for a delicious cup of coffee. Lastly, head to the Graslei, the city's first official trading harbor lined with beautifully decorated row houses that offer the idyllic image of Ghent.
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