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Everything you need to know before visiting Gravensteen Castle in Ghent

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque city of Ghent, Belgium, stands a medieval marvel that captures the imagination of history enthusiasts and travelers alike – the Gravensteen Castle.

This iconic fortress, also known as the "Castle of the Counts," offers visitors a captivating journey through time, where ancient walls whisper tales of knights, nobles, and intrigue.

Gravensteen Castle in Ghent

We will uncover everything you need to know about Gravensteen Ghent, from the essential information and ticket details to annual events, captivating attractions, and activities both within and outside the castle walls.

Gravensteen Castle Ghent

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What is Gravensteen in Ghent?

Gravensteen, meaning "Castle of the Counts" in Dutch, dates back to the 12th century and was once the residence of the Counts of Flanders. Today, the castle stands as a well-preserved historical gem that allows visitors to immerse themselves in its rich history. To embark on this adventure, here's what you need to know:

  1. Location: Gravensteen is centrally located in Ghent, making it easily accessible for tourists exploring the city. Address: Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Gent

  2. Opening Hours: Open from 10:00 to 16:40 or 10 am to 4:40 pm. This time is the last entry time but for those inside the castle, they can roam around until 18:00 or 6:00 pm. There can be a slight variation based on events and time of year. The castle is open every day 7/7.

  3. Ticket Information: Tickets can be purchased on-site or online in advance. There are often discounts available for students, seniors, and families.

castle of the counts Ghent

What is the castle most famous for?

Gravensteen Castle is most famous for being a well-preserved medieval fortress that offers a captivating glimpse into the history of Ghent and the region of Flanders.

The castle, also known as the "Castle of the Counts," dates back to the 12th century and served as the residence of the Counts of Flanders. Its imposing architecture, complete with crenellated walls, towers, and a central keep, is emblematic of medieval European castles.

One of the castle's most iconic features is its central keep, which offers panoramic views of Ghent from its elevated vantage point.

Gravensteen is also renowned for its Torture Museum, where visitors can learn about the medieval justice system and the methods of punishment that were used during that era.

The museum's exhibits provide a chilling insight into the darker aspects of medieval life.

Castle of the counts in Ghent

What will you see inside the castle?

As you step through the imposing gates of Gravensteen, you'll find yourself transported to a bygone era. Some of the must-see attractions within the castle include:

  1. The Keep: The central tower of the castle, known as the keep, offers panoramic views of Ghent. Climbing to the top rewards visitors with breathtaking vistas of the city and its surroundings.

  2. Torture Museum: While not for the faint-hearted, the castle's torture museum provides insight into the darker aspects of medieval justice and punishment. Exhibits include replicas of various historical torture devices.

  3. Great Hall: This grand room, adorned with medieval decorations, reflects the opulence of the noble lifestyle during the castle's prime. It's an excellent place to imagine the castle's former glory.

What are the Activities Inside the Castle

Gravensteen offers more than just history – there are activities to engage visitors of all ages:

  1. Interactive Displays: Interactive exhibits throughout the castle offer immersive experiences, allowing you to engage with history in a hands-on manner.

  2. Audio Guides: Many visitors appreciate the guided audio tours that provide in-depth explanations of the castle's history and architecture. There is also a special ticket for deaf people to do a visioguide so that they can still enjoy all the explanations about the castle.

  3. Costume Dress-Up: A favorite among families, there are often opportunities to dress up in medieval costumes, perfect for capturing memorable photos.

What can you visit outside the castle?

While the castle itself is a treasure trove of history, the surrounding area of Ghent is equally captivating:

  1. Ghent City Center: Gravensteen is conveniently located within walking distance of Ghent's charming city center, where you can explore cobbled streets, canals, and historic buildings.

  2. Cruise Along the Canals: Discover Ghent from a different perspective by taking a leisurely boat cruise along its picturesque canals.

  3. Local Cuisine: Indulge in delicious Belgian cuisine at nearby restaurants and cafes, savoring waffles, chocolates, and other delectable treats.

Ghent in Belgium

How long does it take to visit the castle?

On average, a thorough visit to Gravensteen Castle typically takes around 1,5 to 2 hours. This allows you to explore the main attractions, including the keep, the Great Hall, the torture museum, and other interactive displays.

However, if you are particularly interested in history and want to delve deeper into each exhibit, you might find yourself spending closer to 2,5 to 3 hours at the castle.

The audio guides can enhance your experience by providing detailed explanations and insights about the castle's history, architecture, and the significance of various rooms.

It's a good idea to allocate some extra time for potential lines at ticket counters or for any special events or activities that might be happening during your visit.

Add a boat tour around the castle

Enhance your Gravensteen Ghent experience by embarking on a captivating 50-minute guided boat trip around the castle and through the medieval center of Ghent.

I can't emphasize enough how special it is to end your tour of the castle with this boat ride. Not only will you make beautiful photos from the castle while passing by by boat. But you get also that little bit of extra information about the medieval center of Ghent and landmarks such as St. Bavo's Cathedral, the Graslei canal, and the castle.

Ghent boat tour

It's only €9,50 and definitely a must-do when visiting the Castle of the Counts, also known as Gravensteen, in Ghent.

You can find the ticket that I am talking about here.

It's important to book your 50-minute boat trip in advance because it is really famous around here in Ghent and it is likely to sell out.

Boat tour ghent

How to get to Gravensteen Castle?

Getting to Gravensteen Castle by public transportation is convenient and straightforward, allowing you to easily immerse yourself in its medieval charm. If you're arriving in Ghent by train, you can start your journey by taking a tram or bus from Ghent's main train station, Gent-Sint-Pieters.

Trams and buses are well-connected to various parts of the city, and several lines have stops near the castle.

Look for tram lines 1, 4, and 24, which will bring you within a short walk of Gravensteen.

Bus lines 3, 17, and 18 also provide easy access to the castle's vicinity. The journey from the train station to Gravensteen typically takes around 10-15 minutes by tram or bus.

Ghent's public transportation system is efficient and reliable, allowing you to enjoy a seamless journey to this historical gem. Be sure to check the latest schedules and routes before you embark on your adventure to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Gravensteen Castle.

Tram Ghent

Is there free parking at Gravensteen Castle?

There are public parking facilities located near Gravensteen Castle where you can park your car while you explore the castle and its surroundings. Some of these parking areas might include on-street parking spaces as well as multi-level parking garages.

As for parking fees, there is no free parking near Gravensteen. You need to pay for underground parking or on-street parking spaces. The best option is to park outside Ghent and then take the tram or bus to the city center.

Annual Events at Gravensteen

Throughout the year, Gravensteen hosts various events that bring history to life and offer unique experiences for visitors. Some of the annual events include medieval fairs, historical reenactments, and thematic exhibitions that showcase different aspects of the castle's past.

Christmas Activities at Gravensteen

During the festive season, Gravensteen Castle transforms into a winter wonderland, offering enchanting Christmas activities that transport visitors back in time while immersing them in the holiday spirit.

The castle's medieval halls and courtyards are adorned with twinkling lights, creating a magical ambiance reminiscent of a bygone era. Visitors can partake in special seasonal events such as traditional Christmas markets, where local artisans and vendors showcase their crafts, gifts, and delicacies.

The scent of mulled wine and freshly baked treats fills the air, inviting guests to indulge in the delights of the holiday season in the Gravensteen Winterbar. 

Live performances, carol singing, and storytelling sessions take place within the castle walls, capturing the essence of centuries-old Christmas traditions.

Children can engage in interactive workshops, creating their own medieval-inspired decorations or trying their hand at crafting old-fashioned ornaments.

The Torture Museum might even take a whimsical turn, as festive decorations playfully interact with the historical exhibits.

Medieval Festival at Gravensteen

Gravensteen hosts an annual medieval festival that transports visitors back in time to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Middle Ages.

The castle's courtyard comes alive with knights, craftsmen, and performers in period attire. Visitors can enjoy live reenactments, jousting tournaments, traditional crafts, and authentic medieval food and drinks.

Medieval castle in Ghent

Historical Reenactments

Throughout the year, Gravensteen hosts various historical reenactments that bring the past to life. These events showcase different aspects of medieval life, from battles and weaponry demonstrations to daily activities and customs.

Visitors can witness skilled reenactors portraying knights, craftsmen, and nobles, providing an immersive experience of the castle's history.

Events at Gravensteen castle

10 Tips for a nice visit of The Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen) in Ghent

Here are 10 tips and tricks for visiting Gravensteen Castle in Ghent:

  1. Plan Ahead: Research the castle's opening hours, ticket prices, and any special events before your visit to make the most of your experience.

  2. Buy Tickets Online: Consider purchasing tickets online in advance to save time and avoid potential lines at the ticket counter. You can do this here.

  3. Arrive Early: Arriving early in the day can help you beat the crowds and have a more relaxed exploration of the castle.

  4. Grab an Audio Guide: Opt for an audio guide to enhance your understanding of the castle's history and significance as you explore.

  5. Comfortable Footwear: The castle grounds involve walking on uneven surfaces and climbing stairs, so wear comfortable shoes for ease of movement.

  6. Dress in Layers: Castle interiors can be cool, so dressing in layers ensures you're comfortable throughout your visit.

  7. Explore the Keep First: Begin your tour by climbing the central keep for panoramic views of the city, giving you a great orientation of the surroundings.

  8. Engage with Interactive Exhibits: Take advantage of the interactive displays and workshops to truly immerse yourself in the medieval experience. There is also a special ticket for deaf people so that they can still enjoy all the explanations of the castle.

  9. Capture the Moment: Bring your camera to capture the stunning architecture, exhibits, and memorable moments during your visit.

  10. Combine with City Exploration: Gravensteen is conveniently located near Ghent's city center. Consider combining your castle visit with a stroll through the charming streets, canals, and local cafes. I would recommend booking a boat tour on the canals. I did this experience and it's a nice way to explore the whole city whitout walking too much.

Ghent Belgium

A visit to Gravensteen Castle in Ghent is more than a simple sightseeing endeavor – it's an immersive journey through time that connects you to the essence of medieval life.

With all this information I hope you will enjoy your visit of the Gravensteen Castle or Castle of the Counts as well as your journey through Ghent! Do you want to explore other places in Belgium? Read more about my homecountry Belgium.



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Welcome to Fly Along

Hi I'm Emeline

I am a Belgian lady, traveling solo around the world and sharing my best tips with you! My dream is to become a full-time travel blogger. Read more about my journey to get there.

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