The Cathedral of St Bavo is a magnificent Gothic church in Ghent, Belgium, that dates back to the 10th century. It is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Ghent and the home of the famous Ghent Altarpiece, a masterpiece of Flemish art by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck.
The Cathedral of St Bavo’s ticket price for visiting the cathedral is 6 euros for adults, 4 euros for students and seniors, and free for children under 12 years old. The ticket includes access to the crypt, the choir, and the chapel where the Ghent Altarpiece is displayed.
The Cathedral of St Bavo is open every day from 8:30 am to 6 pm, except on Sundays and public holidays when it opens at 1 pm. The last admission is at 5 pm. The cathedral may be closed for religious services or special events, so it is advisable to check the website before visiting.
The Cathedral of St Bavo is located in the heart of the historic city center of Ghent, near the Belfry and the Town Hall. It can be easily reached by public transport, bike, or on foot. The nearest tram stop is Korenmarkt, and the nearest train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters.
Some tips for visiting the Cathedral of St Bavo are:
- Book your ticket online in advance to avoid queues and secure your time slot for viewing the Ghent Altarpiece.
- Respect the silence and dress code inside the cathedral. No shorts, miniskirts, or sleeveless tops are allowed.
- Use the audio guide or join a guided tour to learn more about the history and art of the cathedral.
- Don’t miss the other treasures of the cathedral, such as the Romanesque crypt, the Baroque pulpit, the Rococo organ, and the tombs of bishops and nobles.
The Cathedral of St Bavo offers various tours for different interests and audiences. You can choose from:
- A general tour that covers the main highlights of the cathedral and its history.
- A thematic tour that focuses on a specific aspect of the cathedral, such as its architecture, music, or liturgy.
- A children’s tour that engages young visitors with stories and activities.
- A group tour that can be customized according to your preferences and needs.
You can book a tour online or by phone at least two weeks in advance. The tours last about an hour and cost 60 euros per group (maximum 20 people), plus the entrance fee.
The Cathedral of St Bavo has many things to see and admire, but some of the most notable are:
- The Ghent Altarpiece, also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a 15th-century polyptych painting that depicts scenes from the Bible and Christian doctrine. It is considered one of the most influential and beautiful works of art in history.
- The crypt, which contains remnants of the original Romanesque church and some of its oldest artworks, such as frescoes, sculptures, and reliquaries.
- The choir, which features a Gothic vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, and carved wooden stalls with misericords (seats with hidden carvings).
- The chapel of St John the Baptist, where the Ghent Altarpiece is displayed in a specially designed glass case that protects it from light, humidity, and temperature changes.
- The pulpit, which was carved by Laurent Delvaux in 1741 and represents the conversion of St Bavo. It is supported by four allegorical figures: Faith, Hope, Charity, and Religion.
- The organ, which was built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in 1853 and has more than 6,000 pipes. It is one of the largest and finest organs in Europe and is used for concerts and recitals.
- The tombs, which include those of Charles V’s sister Eleanor of Austria and her husband Francis I of France; Bishop Antonius Triest, who commissioned many artworks for the cathedral; and Count Ferdinand de Lalaing and his wife Isabella de Croy, who donated their castle to the diocese.
The Cathedral of St Bavo has some prohibitions that visitors should respect:
- No photography or filming is allowed inside the cathedral, especially near the Ghent Altarpiece.
- No food or drinks are allowed inside the cathedral.
- No pets are allowed inside the cathedral, except for guide dogs.
- No smoking is allowed inside or outside the cathedral.