is an old Dominican monastery located in the heart of the city
on the banks of the river Leie, near the medieval port with the
guildhalls as its remnants.
In 1201 a hospital was established next to Saint Michael's
Chapel by Canon Utenhove. By 1225 the institute had become too
small, and it was decided to construct a new one close to the
Bijloke .By that time the first Dominicans had arrived in Ghent. By
the agency of the then counts of Flanders, Ferdinand of Portugal
and Johanna of Constantinople, the Dominicans were allocated the
old hospital to serve as their new settlement.
The year 1228 is considered to be the official date of
establishment of the monastery in Ghent. The monks were very
actively constructing, and very soon they started building a fully
fledged monastery. By 1240 the construction of a church was
launched, and it was finished after 25 years. During the period
1325-75 the wing at the river Leie was constructed, with a
sacristy, a priory, the refectory and the chapter house, a brewery
and a kitchen. All over the first floor was a spacious dormitory. The corridors of the courtyard date from the 15th
century, and were constructed in different periods.
|In 1473 Margaret of York, spouse of Charles the Bold, laid the
first stone of the street wing or library wing, which was the most
important extension of the monastery. In the beginning of the 16th
century the construction of the middle wing was started, using
sandstone for the ground floor and bricks for the upper, and
applying the Tudor arch.
The Iconoclastic Fury of 1556 brought hard times for the
building. The Calvinists threw all the library books in the Leie.
After a brief period of peace, in 1578 the Calvinists took over the
city again. The monastery was used as a Calvinist university until
1584.In 1651 the old Utenhove hospital was being pulled down and
its foundations were used to construct a new hostel which was to be
arranged to serve as a guest wing. The north-eastern part of the
premise, with the priory and the pharmacy, was refurbished 1780-81
in Louis XVI-style, using stucco and decorative painting. The
establishment of the monastery is thus spread over more then 5
centuries, the countless extensions and modifications show the busy
activity of the order in the inner city.
||In 1796, after the French Revolution; the monastery was closed
and sold in lots. The fathers were able to purchase the building
with the help of an agent. They let some part of the building to
get some income, but still they were forced to sell the property in
1823, with the consent of Pope Leo XII.
The new civil owner, exploiting the rising need of housing
occasioned by the speeding industrialization of the city,
introduced intermediate floors and partitions. In this way, some
two hundred rooms became available for those with little means,
while the large rooms such as the sacristy and the chapter house
were being used as depots for wine and the refectory became a
'Bazar', a market of furniture. In 1860, the church was
demolished. Plans were being made to build a bridge across the
river, and an avenue to connect the Volderstraat and its
prestigious Aula with the Coupure, where the better class citizens
lived. These plans were never realized.
|In view of the world exhibition of 1913, some restoration was
done at the Leie front in 1912. The building affected by age had
deteriorated in such a way that it became untenable after the
Second World War. It was prone to be demolished.
But the Decree of 29.10.1956 put the
building on the list of classified premises. Thus the building was
saved for future generations to enjoy.
Tel. 09 264 83 05
Fax 09 264 83 96
History of Ghent and Tourist
is situated at the intersection of the motorways E17 and E40 and
can easily be reached by car. National and international trains
stop in Ghent (stations Sint-Pieters and Dampoort).
The city has an extensive public transport
network serving the city centre and surrounding area.
It can be no coincidence that
Ghent, the capital of East Flanders, was given several pretty
names: historic heart of Flanders, a city of all times, one of the
most beautiful historic cities in Europe
The city combines an
impressive past with a vivid present. Numerous tourists visit
Ghent of which the citizens carry the nickname "stroppendragers"
or noose-bearers and use the extensive
accommodation possibilities. The historic heart of the
city offers a lot of
places of interest. From St Michael's bridge there is
a wonderful view on the skyline of Ghent with the
three impressive towers of
St Nicholas' Church, the
Belfry with its bell tower and
St Bavo's cathedral with the world famous painting
"The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Jan van Eyck.
Traces of the Middle Ages were preserved at
a lot of places. The old port with its guild halls on the
Graslei and Korenlei is merely one example of the
beautiful views this town has to offer.
Not far from the Graslei arises the
Castle of the Counts, once the medieval fortress of the
Count of Flanders. Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction.
Ghent also has several
museums, abbeys, beguinages, dozens of churches and
Not only art lovers but everyone can find
something here to suit his taste. Ghent offers a lot of
restaurants and an exciting
Ghent can be discovered by boat, carriage, bicycle or on
The official language in Ghent is Dutch, but
most people also speak French, English and/or German.
The Belgian currency unit is the euro.
exchange offices and banks in the city centre.
Credit cards are accepted in most places.
All prices in Belgium include VAT and
More information on miscellaneous subjects,
Unstable (and wet) weather. It can be both hot (± 30° C) and cool
(± 11° C) during summertime.
In the wintertime temperatures vary between ± 10° C and ± 0° C.
Map of the
If you are a backpacker, exchange student,
day-tripper or student from anywhere in the world, if you don't
have a lot of cash, but definitely do have a lot of curiosity and
happen to be in and around Ghent for any length of time, then
Use-it is the
tourist information service for you.
Office - City of Ghent
Tel. +32 0(9) 266 56 60
Fax +32 0(9) 266 56 73
Crypt of the Belfry
Tel. +32 (0)9 266 52 32
Tel. +32 (0)9 266 52 33
Tel. +32 (0)9 266 52 34
01/04/2003 - 31/10/2004
9.30 a.m. - 6.30 p.m.
01/11/2004 - 31/03/2005
9.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.
Download the city guide
HOW TO GET TO GHENT
Your best bet within Europe is to fly with
SN Brussels Airlines to get
a connection here. On the Brussels International webpage you will
find links to the train connections to Brussels and further on to
Ghent. When you arrive at Brussels Airport take the shuttle train
to Brussels North. from there a train leaves for Ghent every
twenty minutes. Take trains to Oostende, Knokke Blankenburge and
to De Panne. All of these IC trains stop in Ghent-St.Pieters train
an IC station, accessible seven days a week.
Train information: NMBS
schedules from Brussels airport and within Belgium check
come from France by Thalys change in Brussels Midi (South) for a
train to Ghent unless you are on the direct train from Paris ,
which stops in Ghent.
If you come from Germany, you can take the Thalys from Koln and
then change trains in Brussels South.
If you come from the Netherlands, you change trains in Antwerp and
take the IC train to Oostende or Lille-Flanders. (take care these
trains also stop in Gent-Dampoort, don't exit there) but in
If you come from the UK with EUROSTAR, you can either change trains in Lille or
ride to Brussels South and change trains there.
This page will
be expanded in the near future