The people of Ghent do not look down on street graffiti; In fact, they embrace it. Fantastic displays of street art can be found all around the city, and certain areas are even designated graffiti spots, including Werregarenstraat, which is more commonly known as “graffitistraatje” (graffiti street). Paint shops can be found all around as well, so feel free to grab a can of spray paint and unleash your inner artist on a designated wall. Here are just a few fine examples from around the city.
The second of The Three Towers is the Belfry (or Belfort) of Ghent. The 14th-century watchtower rises high above the city skyline. 256 steps lead the way to the top through a textually-guided museum, but the real star of the show is the incredible panoramic view of Ghent to be seen at the top– a worthy reward for reaching that 256th step (or for waiting for the elevator).
On the Way Up
At the Top
The third of The Three Towers is home to the world-famous Ghent altarpiece, the 15th-century Adoration of the Lamb. Note that the bottom-left panel (out of 24 total) was stolen (and is now replaced with a replica), and although the thief died, nobody knows where it’s hidden.
The Gravensteen (the Counts’ Castle) is one of Ghent’s most iconic landmarks. Built in the 12th century, this castle served as the seat for the Counts of Flanders for a few centuries until they moved out, at which point the castle became a court and a prison.
Interestingly enough, the castle appears more medieval today than when it was first built. There were talks of destroying the castle in the 19th century, but instead it was renovated. New roofing, windows, houses, etc. were also added later in preparation for the 1913 Word Exhibition.
Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction and a popular locale for school field trips. Tours are given of the interior, showcasing the castle’s old floors and walls, armored knights, torture chambers, and more. A bit campy, perhaps, but beautiful nonetheless.
Chips, French fries, frites, whatever you call them– Belgium is renowned for ’em, and Ghent is no exception. In fact, the city is absolutely loaded with fry shops. One popular shop in particular, De Gouden Saté (The Golden Meatstick), opens its doors at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 a.m.! Surely this comes in handy for the locals after those frequent late nights of abundant drinking.
However, to get your fries fix while in Ghent (and you absolutely have to get a fix), I recommend Frituur Jozef at the Vrijdagmarkt. Jozef and his wife run this authentic little fries barracks, and they peel, cut, and bake their potatoes fresh– the old-fashioned way. Be sure to get your fries topped off with one of many available sauces, including ‘stoverijsause mee mayonaise,’ a Ghent speciality consisting of meat sauce made with beer, mixed with mayonnaise. Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s delicious.