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Medieval Architecture in Flanders

Medieval Architecture in Flanders

Flanders—the Dutch-speaking region of northern Belgium—is a hub of striking medieval architecture, as well as beautifully preserved cities and romantic waterways. Here are the essential medieval landmarks to seek out in the Flemish cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Ypres.

 

Bruges

The streets and canals of Bruges, a bustling commercial center during the medieval era, still follow the plan that was laid out in the Middle Ages. Surviving gates and ramparts hint at the fortification wall that used to ring the city. Within its historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medieval Market Square (Markt) has been used as a marketplace since the 10th century. Spot the 12th-century belfry, easily distinguished by its soaring tower, and one of the city’s last remaining timber-fronted houses at 7 Genthof. The Burg, another of Bruges’ busy squares, is home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed), which dates to the 12th century and features an elaborately sculpted facade.

 

Ghent

The original wooden structure of St. Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal), one of Ghent’s medieval highlights, has since been replaced and modernized, but venture inside to view the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (also known as the Ghent Altarpiece), a 15th-century masterpiece by brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Begun in the 13th century, St. Nicholas’ Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk) is one of the city’s oldest and most recognizable structures. The UNESCO-listed Ghent Belfry, which soars to 299 feet (91 meters), is the loftiest in Belgium. Other medieval highlights include the Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen) and the Graslei, the city’s historical port.

 

Ypres

Ypres was also a busy commercial city in the medieval era, particularly renowned for its textiles. The enormous Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) was built in the 13th century and painstakingly restored after the ravages of World War I. Other reconstructed medieval landmarks can be found across the city, from the Het Steen medieval stone house to the centuries-old Butcher’s House.

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6 Tours and Activities

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Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Bruges Private Tour

Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Bruges Private Tour

star-4.5
140
Get a local introduction to Bruges' highlights on a private tour with a guide who's passionate about life in the city. Enjoy the flexibility to customize the tour to your interests, as you take in historic sites, classic architecture, and colorful, canal-side neighborhoods. Stop to explore local markets and to taste some locally-made chocolate, then finish with insider tips for your remaining time in Bruges.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$29.79
Price varies by group size
From
$29.79
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Skip the Line: Belfort of Ghent Entrance Ticket

Skip the Line: Belfort of Ghent Entrance Ticket

star-4
41
Plan your time in Ghent ahead of time by purchasing your entrance ticket to the popular Ghent Belfry. Avoid sold-out days to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the must-see attractions in the Belgian city. Arrive with ticket in hand and save time you would otherwise spend in line to purchase tickets; travel directly to the top of the 14th-century tower for panoramic views and photo ops.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
From
$9.78
From
$9.78

Guided Boat Trip in Ghent

Guided Boat Trip in Ghent

star-4.5
83
Cruise the romantic waterways of medieval Ghent on a 40-minute tour and take in the sights along the River Leie waterfront. Glide past the medieval port of Graslei, the old Groot Vleeshuis Butcher’s Hall and the imposing Castle of Counts, and admire the pretty colorful houses along the riverside.
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  • 40 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$10.13
From
$10.13

Discover Ghent beer world with a chocolate pairing by a young local

Discover Ghent beer world with a chocolate pairing by a young local

star-5
35
Pleasure your palate with the effervescent delight of Belgian beer on a beer tasting tour of Ghent. With a connoisseur guide, stroll around the city and visit ambient bars renowned for their fine selection of beers. Educate your taste buds to recognize the subtle flavors in each distinctive beer variety and learn about the history of Belgian brewing from your knowledgeable guide. Enjoy accompanying samples of cheese and other Belgian delicacies on this enticing tour.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$47.54
From
$47.54
Taking safety measures

Historium Story Ticket

Historium Story Ticket

star-4.5
15
Experience a day in the life of a medieval apprentice at the Bruges Historium, an interactive museum designed to transport you back to 15th-century Belgium. History comes alive through multimedia and special effects as you walk through seven different themed rooms with an audio guide. Enhance your visit with an optional virtual reality experience or drinks in the Duvelorium bar overlooking Market Square.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$17.87
From
$17.87
Taking safety measures

Withlocals Your Way! - Bruges 100% Personalised City Tour

Withlocals Your Way! - Bruges 100% Personalised City Tour

star-4.5
18
Learn about the vagabonds, heroes, and myths that belong to Bruges on a private walking tour of the medieval center. With a guide just for you and your group, the tour has a flexible itinerary that can be tailored to the sights you want to see. Hear stories about the Burg and Minnewater Park, and finish by the historic almshouse of Begijnhof.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$58.38
Price varies by group size
From
$58.38
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures