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St. Nicholas' Church

A beautiful example of Scheldt Gothic architecture, this striking blue-gray church is among the oldest landmarks in the city. 

Rising prominently over Ghent’s historic city center, St. Nicholas’ Church is one of the famous “Three Towers of Ghent.” With its grand scale and elaborate design, St. Nicholas' Church looks more like a cathedral than a church. Observe its remarkable Scheldt Gothic architecture and careful restoration work that disguises its somewhat turbulent history.

The church was built in the 11th century in Romanesque style and was rebuilt in the 13th century after being severely damaged by two large fires. More damage occurred in the 16th century, when Protestant Reformation iconoclasts destroyed its religious images. During the French Revolution, it was repurposed as a horse stable. By the 18th century, a number of shops and houses had been built against its exterior walls.

See today’s church, the result of extensive restoration work, which began in the 19th century. Admire its ornate exterior, which is constructed with blue-gray stone sourced from the city of Tournai. The use of this type of stone distinguishes the church’s Scheldt Gothic style from the later Brabantine Gothic style. For a more comprehensive view of the church’s façade, head to the top of the equally famous belfry nearby.

Notice that the church’s tower is constructed above the crossing of the nave and transepts, rather than above the entrance. Another characteristic element of the Scheldt Gothic style of architecture, this design allows light to shine into the transept from the tower. This central toweronce served as a watchtower and carried the town bells until the belfry was completed in the 14th century.

The church’s interior has been beautifully restored to highlight its handsome Gothic stonework. Look for the striking 19th-century organ, which was designed by French organ builder, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Don’t miss the two large stained-glass windows created by Jean-Baptiste Capronnier in the mid-19th century.

You’ll also see the church’s beautiful altar screen, which was added during the Baroque period in recognition of the growing Counter-Reformation Movement. Inspect the numerous life-sized statues of various apostles, as well as the intricately carved pulpit.

St. Nicholas' Church is open daily, with shortened hours on Mondays. Admission is free.


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Lodging Near St. Nicholas' Church

See all 125 Properties near St. Nicholas' Church
Ghent Marriott Hotel $137
Ghent Marriott Hotel

Ghent Marriott Hotel

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    4.6
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    4.0 out of 5.0

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    ibis budget Gent Centrum Dampoort $57
    ibis budget Gent Centrum Dampoort

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    Kleindokkaai 27, Ghent
       
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      2.5 out of 5.0

      Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St. Bavo's Abbey and Portus Ganda. Ghent Museum of Industrial Archeology and Textiles and Friday Market Square are also within 1 mi (2 km). Ghent-Dampoort Station is 7 minutes by foot.

      ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal $85
      ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal

      ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal

      Limburgstraat 2, Ghent
         
        4.0
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        3.0 out of 5.0

        Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel is steps from Saint Bavo Cathedral, Royal Dutch Theatre, and Belfry of Ghent. Ghent Cloth Hall and Achtersikkel are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 17 minutes by foot.

        NH Gent Belfort $121
        NH Gent Belfort

        NH Gent Belfort

        Hoogpoort 63, Ghent
           
          4.3
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          4.0 out of 5.0

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          Ghent River Hotel $103
          Ghent River Hotel

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            4.0
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            Novotel Gent Centrum $112
            Novotel Gent Centrum

            Novotel Gent Centrum

            Hoogpoort 52, Ghent
               
              4.2
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              3.0 out of 5.0

              Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel is steps from Court of Ryhove, Graffiti Street, and Ghent Town Hall. Great Butchers' Hall and Langemunt Shopping Center are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 17 minutes by foot.

              1898 The Post $139
              1898 The Post

              1898 The Post

              Graslei 16, Ghent
                 
                4.7
                of 5, from 47 reviews
                3.5 out of 5.0

                This family-friendly Ghent hotel is located in the historical district, steps from St. Michael's Bridge, Great Butchers' Hall, and Design Museum Ghent. Old Fish Market and Langemunt Shopping Center are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 22 minutes by foot and Ghent-Sint-Pieters Station is 30 minutes.

                Hotel de Flandre $90
                Hotel de Flandre

                Hotel de Flandre

                Poel 1-2, Ghent
                   
                  3.8
                  of 5, from 510 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in the heart of Ghent, this romantic hotel is steps from St. Michael's Church and School of Yesteryear. Design Museum Ghent and St. Michael's Bridge are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 25 minutes by foot.