For over a thousand years this has been a place of prayer and Christian worship. Some of our visitors come to pray and to participate in Holy Mass. Others come to admire this magnificent building and its art treasures. Others still, come for concerts, exhibitions and organ recitals. We hope that everyone feels truly welcome here.
The imposing building we see now is the result of a labour of love which took centuries to complete.
Our church can be dated back to the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, consecrated by Transmarus bishop of Tournai and Noyon in 942. Traces from a later Romanesque church can still be seen today in the richly decorated crypt of the cathedralyon, in 942. The Romanesque church which followed this one has left some traces in the crypt.
Ghent, which in the Middle Ages was one of the most important cities in Western Europe, could easily afford to build newer and grander churches. Our church was more or less being permanently rebuilt from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. By the middle of the 16th century the church had more or less its current exterior aspect.
The aftermath of the rebellion against emperor Charles V in Ghent in 1539 saw the dissolution of the centuries old abbey of Saint Bavo. The abbot and monks became canons in a Chapter that was attached to what now became the church of Saint Bavo.
In 1559 the diocese of Ghent was founded and the church finally became a cathedral. The rich baroque interior of the church shows the influence of one of the longer ruling bishops of Ghent, Antonius Triest.
Restoration of the Tower.
The 7th of May 2013, bishop Luc Van Looy removed one of the stone pentacles, ten meters high, from the tower of the Saint-Bavocathedral. This symbolicly started the restoration works. These activities will take five years with a cost of 6.300.000 euro.
The contractor will put a canvas around the tower, which will show a print of the Mystic Lamb, and references to musea and partners.
Every day at 12 am till 1 pm the outside panels of the triptych will be closed.
This way you will be able to admire the restored outside panels in their full glory, during one hour a day.
Bear in mind that visitors to the "Mystic Lamb" are allowed till 15 minutes before closing of the Chapel.
So in Winter till 3.45 pm and in Summer till 4.45 pm
Part of the cathedral can be closed on short notice, for religious services.
Our volunteers are present to help and guide visitors to the cathedral, free of charge
The chapel with the famous painting "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" has its own hours.
HOW TO REACH
The cathedral does not have its own parking.
There is however plenty of parking space in the town of Ghent.
Individual visit (audio guide included): EUR 4,-
Groups (from 15 persons: EUR 3,-
Schools: EUR 1,5
Audio guide: EUR 1,-
Entrance to the chapel is possible until 15 minutes before closing time.
Individual visitors receive an audio guide with an explanation of the painting.
These are currently available in Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish and Japanese.
Tour and other guides are not allowed to talk inside this chapel.
They can prepare a visit to the painting by using the colour copy further in the cathedral.