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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 109 Properties near St. Nicholas' Church
NH Gent Belfort $114
NH Gent Belfort

NH Gent Belfort

Hoogpoort 63, Ghent
     
    4.3
    of 5, from 837 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

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

    Novotel Gent Centrum $88
    Novotel Gent Centrum

    Novotel Gent Centrum

    Hoogpoort 52, Ghent
       
      4.2
      of 5, from 693 reviews
      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.

      Ghent Marriott Hotel $135
      Ghent Marriott Hotel

      Ghent Marriott Hotel

      Korenlei 10, Ghent
         
        4.6
        of 5, from 873 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel is steps from Design Museum Ghent, School of Yesteryear, and St. Michael's Church. Great Butchers' Hall and Old Fish Market are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 22 minutes by foot.

        Hostel Uppelink $76
        Hostel Uppelink

        Hostel Uppelink

        Sint-Michielsplein 21, Ghent
           
          4.6
          of 5, from 39 reviews
          2.0 out of 5.0

          Situated in Ghent, this hostel is steps from St. Michael's Bridge, St. Michael's Church, and Korenmarkt Square. St. Nicholas' Church and Masons' Guild Hall are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 22 minutes by foot.

          ibis budget Gent Centrum Dampoort $54
          ibis budget Gent Centrum Dampoort

          ibis budget Gent Centrum Dampoort

          Kleindokkaai 27, Ghent
             
            4.0
            of 5, from 45 reviews
            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 $69
            ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal

            ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal

            Limburgstraat 2, Ghent
               
              4.0
              of 5, from 480 reviews
              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.

              Hotel de Flandre $93
              Hotel de Flandre

              Hotel de Flandre

              Poel 1-2, Ghent
                 
                3.8
                of 5, from 500 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.

                Hotel Harmony $150
                Hotel Harmony

                Hotel Harmony

                Kraanlei 37, Ghent
                   
                  4.7
                  of 5, from 217 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  This family-friendly Ghent hotel is located in the historical district, steps from Kraanlei, Great Butchers' Hall, and House of Alijn. Old Fish Market and Langemunt Shopping Center are also within 5 minutes. Ghent-Dampoort Station is 19 minutes by foot.