On our last day in Belgium we visited Ghent which is about a 40 min train ride from Brussels. At the Ghent train station we purchased metro cards for the tram that would take us to the the center of town (and back, in case we couldn’t find a vendor), and 15 minutes later we were admiring several cathedrals. (Leandra’s note: After we stopped at a clothing shop just as we got off the tram for a dress for me!)
Our first destination was St. Bavo since I really wanted to see The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb altarpiece. The interior of the church was amazing with intricate carvings, tapestries, and many small private altar rooms for wealthy families.
The church itself is free, but to see the real altarpiece, considered one of the first great Renaissance paintings, you had to pay 4 Euros. A bit pricey, but the painting definitely lived up to expectations with incredible detail, and they do include an audio handset that guides you through each panel. (Leandra’s note: The narrator is almost worth the price of admission on his own.)
This day was the coldest and greyest of our trip, so I navigated our group to Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant so they could warm up while I headed back out for more photos. I crossed the bridge…
and headed toward Gravensteen Castle…
From there I wandered along the lanes staying close to the canals.
Eventually I made my way past the Friday Market to St. Jacobs Church, then turned back to get the rest of the group. On the way back I sought out the famous Werregarrenstrat a street where street art is openly allowed.
With everyone else warmed up we made our way back outside, first stopping at Tierenteyn-Verlent for their famous mustard. While we were waiting Tiffany bought a small bag of Cuberdons, small raspberry cone-shaped candies, from a street vendor. They were similar to a jelly candy with a sticky texture.
From there we explored and shopped along more of the city, and eventually I took everyone through Werregarrenstrat again. This time there were a few folks painting.
After a few more shops we were getting tired and cold again and decided to try de Trollekelder, and then on to Herbert De dulle griet. With dusk settling in and the lights coming on around town I headed out on my own again. I had read that Ghent is beautiful at night, and the reviews weren’t wrong — they’ve made an effort to light up many of the interesting buildings around town.
By the time I got back to the group Andrew and Mike were missing a shoe… see the beer and food post for more on that story!
Ghent was a great day-trip, even in the colder weather, and it must be beautiful in better weather. We’d definitely like to return and explore more in the future.