Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent Gravensteen castle Belgium

Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium

While oftentimes some of the most splendid castles are generally found in rural areas far from city centres, this cannot be said about the massive medieval pile that is the Gravensteen Castle in Ghent. Plopped on the canal bank in the centre of lovely Ghent – one of Belgium’s most fascinating and underrated cities – the spires of the Gravensteen reach for the sky and its walls crumble into the moat. This fortress was built around 1180 by Philip of Alsace, which he modelled after castles he encountered while fighting in the 2nd crusade. Threatened with destruction in the 19th century, the owner of the Gravensteen decided to make the originally medieval castle ‘even more medieval’ — thereby commencing a lengthy restoration project. In some ways, this  caused experts to question its authenticity, but this is the nature of continually-inhabited buildings: they evolve. As the Gravensteen is located in the middle of the city, modern objects such as power lines, asphalt roads, and cars criss-cross the castle grounds with roads encircling its walls. Yet the real-fake medieval castle sits in the Place Sint-Veerleplein, unaffected, steadfast and silent, watching as the modern world whizzes by.


Pro tip: Full admission is €10, and your ticket also gets you a virtual guide at the Abbey St Peter. The castle is open daily from 10-6pm. While in Ghent, poke around the lovely second-hand and antique shops and walk along the gorgeous canals. For the other end of the history spectrum, hit up Graffiti Street – an alleyway constantly painted by local artists so that it looks different upon each visit!


Find other great castles in Europe:

This post originally appeared in June 2014. It has since been updated and revised. 

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5 thoughts on “Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium

  1. Thanks! It’s not nearly as medieval or remote as it looks…it’s actually right in the city centre (I had to do some expert cropping out of cars, tram lines, poles, etc, hence why you don’t see the right side of the castle; I believe there was a car there) But it’s still a beautiful place–and easy to visit 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Places in Europe

  3. Pingback: Ghent, Belgium | The Most Beautiful Places in Europe

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