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Overview

A medieval highlight in the low countries

A medieval highlight in the low countries

Gorgeous, medieval Ghent lies at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers, and was for a time during the Middle Ages, one of Europe’s richest cities. Considered by many the spiritual heart of Flanders, Ghent has a large university, ancient churches, canals and waterways and a famous (yet controversial) castle.

The defining building of Ghent is the Gravensteen, or "Castle of the Count." Built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace, the castle served as the seat of the Count of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. The castle was then used as a courthouse, a prison and even a torture chamber. At the end of the 19th century, the downtrodden castle was scheduled to be demolished before the city of Ghent, in 1885, bought it and started a renovation project. The walls and dungeon were restored to their original condition, and the structure is still partly surrounded by the moat. Despite arguments that the castle lacks authenticity, travelers come in droves.

About Benelux

Nearly as old and just as beautiful, the Graslei is a Ghent’s medieval harbor, lined with 12th -17th century buildings. This "Herb Quay" on the right bank of the Lys lies between the Gras Bridge and St. Michael’s Bridge, and helped establish Ghent as a wealthy port city. Today, the Graslei is a modern meeting place, its restored warehouses occupied by restaurants, shops and art galleries.

To see the city from up high, climb the 250-foot-high belfry of Ghent that is topped by a dragon and symbolizes the power of Ghent’s medieval guilds. Through the centuries, it has served not only as a bell tower to announce the time but also signal for warnings. The bell even has a name : Roland, and has become almost a person to the people of Belgium. Longfellow even referred to Roland in one of his poems : "Till the bell of Ghent responded o’er lagoon and dike of sand, I am Roland ! I am Roland ! there is victory in the land !" It’s only fitting then that he is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ghent is the gateway to more Medieval beauty in Flanders. Bruges, just 20 minutes away, is home to its own UNESCO Heritage Site Belfry and a center for delicate lace. See what sparkles in Antwerp, center of the diamond trade, and be there in 45 minutes. For more riches, stare at yachts in the "North Port" of Oostende, less than an hour away. Craving waffles on the Grand Place ? Be in Brussels in a half hour. All with a Eurail Benelux Pass.

Getting to Ghent is just as easy as getting around Ghent. Its city center is the largest car-free area in Belgium. You won’t hear exhaust pipes or the honking of horns. Just the sound of locals chatting away among the Medieval quays and streets, and Roland keeping track of your precious time in this Flanders capital.

Ghent station(s)

Trains are convenient way to reach any town and city in Europe. All main towns have a railway station, while major cities have more than two railway stations. Nearly all railway stations are located in the city centre. Check our map to locate railway station(s) in Ghent.

Ghent city guide

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From our travel community

Amsterdam-bruges-brussels-ghent- paris Hi I'm Marie, Is it worth getting the 3 day eurail select pass even though Bruges and Ghent are regional trains? Thank you

Celeste Fuertes | 24a junio 2018 complete | 3 Comments
Reservation booked/tickets received transfer times are 5 min! Hi, I reserved and booked train tickets on rail europe already and found a few reservations I made with 5-6 min transfer! Is this enough time? What happens if I miss a transfer, can I just jump on the next one without buying another ticket? I (...)

mlo878 | 11a februaro 2015 complete | 64 Comments
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How do i get from london to belgium, travel there and then get to avignon? help! I need help to find out which is the best option to get from London (don't need a train pass to travel whithin England..just to get to Belgium) to Brussels, then staying 8 nights at Brussels and visiting different points (Namur, Mechelen, (...)

MaLu | 21a junio 2014 complete | 2 Comments
Does eurail pass cover barcelona, lyon, mulhouse, luxembourg, brussels, bruges, ghent, and antwerp? Hi,we are coming from Colorado,USA this coming April.We need to know if the 4 country 15 day Eurail provides for regular (not high speed) passenger train travel thru Barcelona,Spain,to Lyon France to Mulhouse France,to Luxembourg,to (...)

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