Belfry of Ghent is a medieval bell tower in Ghent, Belgium. Built between 1313-1380, it served as a watchtower and bell tower. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's a key tourist attraction. Located in the city center at Sint-Baafsplein, it stands between Saint Bavo's Cathedral and Saint Nicholas Church. It is ppen daily from 10am to 6pm, and offers panoramic city views from its upper gallery. Entrance fee is 1€ for adults, with discounts for seniors and youth. There's no time limit for visitors, but a typical visit lasts 30-60 minutes.
The tower is safe, well-maintained, and complies with modern safety codes. Guided tours are available, providing deep insight into the tower's history and architecture. It's part of the “Belfries of Belgium and France” UNESCO property, promoting its preservation and cultural significance.
Besides the Belfry, other top Ghent attractions include Gravensteen Castle and local delicacies like cuberdon candy and Gentse waterzooi stew. The Belfry is easily accessible by public transport or car, and its central location makes it a must-visit for anyone in Ghent.
- What is Belfry of Ghent?
- Where is Belfry of Ghent?
- What is the history of Belfry of Ghent?
- What are the visiting hours of Park Abbey?
- How much is the Entrance Fee for Belfry of Ghent?
- How long is the typical visit time in Belfry of Ghent?
- How to get to Belfry of Ghent?
- What visitors say about Belfry of Ghent?
- Does it worth it to visit Belfry of Ghent?
- Is the Belfry of Ghent considered a Unesco World Heritage Site?
- What are the best attractions in Ghent besides the Belfry of Ghent?
- Does Belfry of Ghent participates in the Ghent Light Festival?
- What is the Ghent Christmas Market (Winterfeesten)?
- What are the top restaurants in Ghent?
What is Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry of Ghent is a medieval bell tower located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. It stands 91 meters (299 ft) tall and is one of three famous towers that dominate the city's skyline, along with the towers of Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas Church. The Belfry was built between 1313-1380 and served as a bell tower, watchtower, and repository for important municipal documents. Today it is a popular tourist attraction that offers panoramic views over Ghent from its upper gallery. The Belfry is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where is Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry of Ghent is located in the historic city center of Ghent at Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Its exact address is Botermarkt 18, 9000 Ghent. The tower stands between Saint Bavo's Cathedral and Saint Nicholas Church on Sint-Baafsplein (Saint Bavo's Square), one of the main squares in the heart of medieval Ghent.
When was Belfry of Ghent Opened to Public?
The Belfry of Ghent was constructed between 1313 and 1380. It began operating as a bell tower and watchtower for the city as early as the 14th century. The tower was open to the public as a lookout point during the Middle Ages when it was used by town guards. Today, visitors can access the interior of the Belfry and climb to the top viewing gallery which offers 360-degree views over Ghent. The Belfry remains open year-round as a popular tourist attraction.
What is the history of Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry of Ghent was built in the 14th century as a symbol of the city's growing wealth and independence. Construction began in 1313 under architect Jan van Haelst. The tower took over 60 years to complete due to interruptions from war, plagues, and political unrest. It initially functioned as a bell tower, storage for municipal archives, treasury, and watchtower manned by town guards. A gilded copper dragon statue was installed on the tower's spire in 1377 as a protector of the city. The Belfry played an important role in civic life by housing the town bells which rang out hourly and warned citizens of danger. Over the centuries, the tower has been modified and expanded to accommodate more bells. Today it contains a 54-bell carillon and its historic architecture makes it a famous landmark.
What are the visiting hours of Park Abbey?
The Belfry of Ghent is open daily from 10am to 6pm, including holidays. Last ticket entry is at 5:30 pm to provide enough time to ascend the tower before its 6pm closing time. The Belfry is only closed on January 1st for New Year's Day and December 25th for Christmas. It maintains reliable opening hours year-round except for possible unexpected closures due to weather, events, or maintenance. Visitors are advised to confirm the operating hours before visiting in case of schedule changes.
When is the Best Time to Visit Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry of Ghent is open to visitors year-round, so it can be visited at any time. However, the best time to visit is likely spring or summer when the weather is pleasant for exploring the city and climbing the tower. During July and August, the Belfry's carillon performs concerts on Saturday nights which is an added attraction. Visiting in the late afternoon can also allow you to experience the tower both during the day and at sunset. Peak tourist season is summer, so visiting in the spring or fall offers smaller crowds. The Belfry stays open during winter but you may want to bundle up if climbing the open-air tower.
Is it safe to visit in Belfry of Ghent?
Yes, the Belfry of Ghent is very safe to visit. The medieval tower and its interior have been well-maintained over the centuries and recently renovated. The stairs and elevators used to access the tower viewing gallery meet modern safety codes. The civic site sees thousands of visitors per year without major incident. As always when traveling, it is best to remain aware of your surroundings and avoid unlit alleys at night, but the Belfry itself located in a busy, central tourist area. Use common sense precautions and you are unlikely to face major safety issues during your visit.
How much is the Entrance Fee for Belfry of Ghent?
The current entrance fee to visit the Belfry of Ghent is 11€ for adults. There are reduced rates for seniors, locals, students and kids. Special discounted combination tickets are available that allow access to the Belfry and other top attractions in Ghent like Saint Bavo's Cathedral. The Belfry is also included free with the CityCard Gent which provides admission to museums and transportation. Keep in mind entrance fees are subject to change.
How long can you stay in Belfry of Ghent?
There is no time limit on how long you can stay inside the Belfry of Ghent. Visitors are welcome to take as much time as they want exploring the interior museum spaces and climbing up to the top viewing platform. Most people spend 30-60 minutes visiting the tower, but you can stay longer if you wish to take in all the exhibits at a leisurely pace, rest at the top, and watch the mechanical clockwork in action. Guards will inform you if the Belfry is closing soon so you don't get locked inside.
How long is the typical visit time in Belfry of Ghent?
The typical amount of time spent visiting the Belfry of Ghent is 30-60 minutes. Upon entering, most visitors spend about 15 minutes viewing the small museum spaces inside the tower which discuss its history and architecture. Climbing the stairs or taking the elevator up to the top viewing gallery takes around 10-15 minutes at a moderate pace. You'll then want budget 15-30 minutes taking in the panoramic views from the open-air platform at the tower's summit. Many also watch the mechanical old clockworks in action for 10-15 minutes. So in total, an hour is sufficient to see the Belfry's highlights at an unhurried pace.
How to get to Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry is centrally located making it easy to reach. If taking public transport, visitors should exit at Korenmarkt stop which is a 5 minute walk from the Belfry. If driving, parking garages are available under the Ghent Courthouse or Kouter. Once in the historic center, the Belfry is well-marked with signs and is surrounded by pedestrian streets. Navigation apps or a sightseeing map can direct you the short walk from wherever you access the city center.
What are the house rules of Belfry of Ghent?
The Belfry of Ghent has some basic house rules to ensure an enjoyable visit:
- No Food or Beverages. No food or drinks are allowed inside to protect the historic interiors.
- Bags and Luggage. Bags and luggage must be checked into lockers before entering.
- Photography Rules. Photography is allowed but flashes and tripods are prohibited.
- Respect the Clockworks. Maintain silence around the active clockwork mechanisms.
- Children's Access. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
- Smoking Ban. Smoking is prohibited inside the tower.
- Preserving the Tower. Don't touch or damage the exhibits and architecture.
- Follow Staff Instructions. Respect the staff and follow their instructions for accessing the tower.
What visitors say about Belfry of Ghent?
Visitors highly recommend going to the top of Belfort van Gent to take in panoramic views over the picturesque historic city center of Ghent. Belfort van Gent offers beautiful panoramic views of the entire city of Ghent from its top floor observation deck. Many reviewers highlight the amazing 360 degree views as the main draw of visiting the 14th century bell tower. The Gothic architecture is described as iconic, gorgeous, and one of the most beautiful landmarks in Ghent. Several reviewers recommend going early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid crowds. The lines move quickly since tickets are sold in a separate office in the basement. Reviewers say the €8 adult ticket price is fair and worth it for the views alone. The elevator makes the tower accessible for people who don’t want to climb stairs. Visitors appreciate the option to take the elevator up and stairs down. Parents mention the dragon egg hunt activity is a nice touch for kids. There are a few exhibits about the tower’s history and bells on each floor that visitors say are interesting. Hearing the bells ring on the hour is a unique experience. Many describe climbing the narrow medieval staircase as an adventure and enjoyable way to imagine what it was like for the historic tower guards. Photographers advise getting shots both during the day and at night when the tower is beautifully lit up.
Does it worth it to visit Belfry of Ghent?
Yes, visiting the Belfry of Ghent is highly recommended and well worth the time for most travelers to Belgium. As one of only three medieval towers still standing in Ghent, the Belfry offers the chance to see architecture and heritage from the city's golden era. In addition to its historic significance, the panoramic views of the city from the Belfry's rooftop viewing platform are considered some of the best in Ghent. The modest entry fee also makes it very accessible. If you only have a short time in Ghent, the Belfry is a top priority thanks to its architecture, views, history and convenient central location.
Are there guided tours to Belfry of Ghent?
Yes, the Belfry of Ghent offers guided tours of the tower daily in multiple languages. 45-minute guided tours are available on the hour in Dutch, French, English, and German. Tours provide in-depth explanations of the Belfry's history, architecture, and purpose from knowledgeable guides. Helpful exhibits are also incorporated. Guided Night Watchman tours at twilight are also seasonally offered from Easter to October. Various private tour companies in Ghent also feature the Belfry of Ghent as a highlight on walking tours of the medieval city center. Booking ahead is recommended as spaces are limited.
Is the Belfry of Ghent considered a Unesco World Heritage Site?
The Belfry of Ghent is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Specifically, it is recognized as part of the “Belfries of Belgium and France” World Heritage property that was inscribed in 1999. The Belfry of Ghent was one of the initial group of 23 belfries across Belgium and northern France that received World Heritage status in 1999. The site was expanded in 2005 to include an additional 32 belfries, bringing the total to 55 towers across Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.
UNESCO recognized these belfries for their outstanding universal value as architectural masterpieces that embody civic independence and autonomy in medieval Europe. The Belfry of Ghent is considered an excellent example of the civic towers built across northern Europe starting in the 10th century.
UNESCO aims to promote preservation of the Belfry of Ghent and raise awareness of its cultural significance. The Belfry of Ghent, as a World Heritage Site, has a commitment to meet certain standards of conservation and management to retain its status. The recognition has helped make the Belfry of Ghent a famous landmark and popular tourist attraction.
What are the best attractions in Ghent besides the Belfry of Ghent?
Listed below are the best attractions in Ghent besides the Belfry of Ghent.
- Gravensteen Castle. Gravensteen Castle is a medieval castle in central Ghent, Belgium. Originally built in 1180, it has many original features like imposing stone walls, towers, central keep and moat. Visitors can explore dungeons, see torture devices and medieval artifacts. Located at Sint-Veerleplein 11, the castle appeals to history and architecture lovers. Admission is 13 € ($14, £11). Open daily 10am-6pm. Gravensteen Castle is considered one of the best attractions in Ghent.
- Ghent's local delicacies. Ghent has signature local delicacies like the purple conical raspberry-flavored candy called cuberdon and the vegetable stew Gentse waterzooi. The Great Butchers' Hall displays over 175 regional products. Ghent is a haven for vegetarians with “veggie days” on Thursdays in restaurants. Foodies flock here for the diverse cuisine.
- Patershol. Patershol is a historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets and medieval architecture dating to the 12th century. Once home to leather traders, it is now a trendy district with restaurants, bars, galleries and cafés. Located by the Castle of the Counts, it offers charming ambience. Patershol appeals to photographers and foodies.
- House of Alijn. The House of Alijn in a former children's hospital illuminates daily life in 20th century Ghent through recreated shops, exhibits and artifacts. Located at Kraanlei 65, it appeals to all ages. Hands-on exhibits bring history to life. Admission is 9€ ($9.50, £7.70). Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, closed Mondays.
What is the cost of living in Ghent?
Ghent is moderately expensive for tourists compared to other European destinations. The average cost for a three course dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant in Ghent is around €60 ($67, £48). Hotels have a wide range of prices, but a decent three-star hotel room averages €120 ($134, £96) per night. Public transportation like buses and trams are fairly priced, with a standard ticket costing €3 ($3.35, £2.40) and a day pass available for €6 ($6.70, £4.80). Taxis start at €2.40 ($2.70, £1.95) plus €2 ($2.25, £1.60) per kilometer travelled. Museums and attractions have competitive rates – for example, entrance to the Castle of the Counts is €10 ($11, £8) and boat tours start at €7 ($7.80, £5.60). There are free walking tours available as well. Groceries from supermarkets and small shops are moderately priced – expect to pay around €2.50 ($2.80, £2) for a sandwich or light meal. Alcoholic drinks in bars and restaurants are higher than average for Europe, with a pint of beer costing €4-6 ($4.50-6.70, £3.20-4.80). Accommodation, dining and attractions are certainly not cheap, but also not excessively expensive compared to other popular European cities. Tourists who cook their own meals, stay in hostels or budget hotels, and limit costly activities like drinking and fine dining can experience Ghent on a reasonable budget. But it's not an ultra-cheap destination. Careful planning and budgeting is recommended, as costs can quickly add up.
Does Belfry of Ghent participates in the Ghent Light Festival?
Yes, the Belfry of Ghent, as part of Ghent's Historic Center does participates in the Ghent Light Festival. The festival showcases light installations and projections on the facades of buildings, bridges, squares, and parks throughout the historic city center of Ghent. The installations and projections are concentrated in the medieval core around sights like the historic center, Graslei, Korenmarkt, St. Bavo's Cathedral, Gravensteen Castle, and St. Nicholas' Church. The Ghent Light Festival transforms Ghent's medieval streets, canals, and monuments into a dazzling spectacle.
How is Ghent during Christmas?
Ghent transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city center is decorated with sparkling lights, festive ornaments, and over 150 charming wooden stalls at the Ghent Christmas Market. Visitors can wander through the market to find unique handmade gifts, sample traditional Belgian treats like waffles and mulled wine, and enjoy festive concerts and events. The market stretches across several historic squares and landmarks, including the stunning St. Bavo's Cathedral and Belfry of Ghent. The city embraces the holiday spirit wholeheartedly.
The weather in Ghent during Christmas is cold and breezy. The average high temperature in December is 7°C (45°F), while the average low is 2°C (36°F). The coldest month is February, with average highs of 7°C (45°F) and lows of 0°C (33°F). There may be a few days in December with sub-zero temperatures below 0°C (32°F). With the chilly weather, most visitors bundle up in warm coats, hats, mittens, and scarves while exploring the Christmas market. The cold is easily forgotten while sipping on a mug of steaming glühwein or hot chocolate. A bit of rain is also common, so visitors are advised to bring an umbrella.
The centerpiece of Christmas celebrations in Ghent is the Ghent Christmas Market (Winterfeesten) that takes place annually from the beginning of December to New Year's Eve.
What is the Ghent Christmas Market (Winterfeesten)?
The Ghent Christmas Market is an annual holiday market held in the medieval city of Ghent, Belgium. It transforms the historic center into a magical winter wonderland during the festive season. The market features over 150 wooden chalet stalls selling Christmas gifts, decorations, food, drinks and more. Visitors can experience the sights, sounds, scents and tastes of a traditional Christmas market against the backdrop of Ghent's cobblestone streets and medieval architecture.
The Ghent Christmas Market opens annually in early December and runs through New Year's Eve. The market stalls are open daily from 12 PM to midnight on weekdays, 11 AM to 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 AM to 6 PM on Sundays. The market is closed on Christmas Day, December 25.
The Christmas market stretches across several charming squares and landmarks in the historic heart of Ghent. It starts at Sint-Baafsplein, home of the iconic St. Bavo's Cathedral. The market continues along Botermarkt and Klein Turkije, past sights like the Belfry of Ghent. It concludes at Korenmarkt square. Wandering between the stalls, visitors can admire Ghent's medieval architecture adorned with twinkling lights. The streets of Graslei and Korenlei along the scenic canal also sparkle with holiday decorations. The charming and compact layout of the Ghent Christmas Market makes it easy to explore the festive sights on foot.
What are the best hotels to stay in Ghent?
Listed below are the best hotels to stay in Ghent:
- Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof: Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof offers a blend of modern comfort and classic elegance. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a spa, an indoor swimming pool and a fine dining restaurant. The hotel's location makes it convenient for exploring Ghent's attractions.
- 1898 The Post: 1898 The Post offers a unique setting in an old post office building, providing a distinct, atmospheric experience. The interior is lavishly decorated with dark, moody colours and antique furnishings. The hotel's central location places it within walking distance of major sights.
- Hotel Carlton: Hotel Carlton is near Ghent's main railway station, making it convenient for those using public transport. The rooms are modern, comfortable and well-equipped with amenities such as free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. The hotel's location makes it a short journey for those keen to explore the city.
- Ghent Marriott Hotel: Ghent Marriott Hotel offers a riverside location with modern amenities and comfortable rooms. Guests can take advantage of a fitness centre, business facilities and an on-site restaurant. The hotel's central location places it within easy reach of key attractions like Gravensteen Castle and Saint Bavo's Cathedral.
What are the top restaurants in Ghent?
There are three top restaurants in Ghent to try. Firstly, Oak provides a modern dining experience, offering a menu that is both innovative and rooted in traditional Belgian flavours. It's an ideal spot for dinner, but one needs to book a reservation well in advance.Secondly, LOF Restaurant is another gem, known for its elegant atmosphere and a menu that perfectly balances local and international cuisines. It's a great place for both lunch and dinner, offering a variety of options to suit different tastes. Lastly, when it comes to the best restaurants to eat and drink in Ghent, Pantheon certainly earns its place on the list. Known for its exquisite seafood dishes and impeccable service, it's a dining experience that leaves a lasting impression. Reservations are highly recommended here as well. These establishments offer exceptional food and contribute to Ghent's reputation as a culinary hotspot.
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