St. Bavo's Cathedral, begun in the austere 13th century but finished in the 16th century in the ornate Brabantine Gothic style, dramatically rises from a low, unimposing entryway. It contains one of the most beautiful and influential paintings of the Middle Ages: De aanbidding van het Lam Gods (The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb). In this altarpiece, painted by the brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck, angels, cherubs, massive trees, flowing robes, and tresses combine to create a masterwork. One of its lower panels was stolen in 1934 and was never recovered, giving rise to numerous conspiracy theories and inspiring Albert Camus's novel, The Fall. The cathedral's ornate pulpit, made of white Italian marble and black Danish oak, was carved in the 18th century by the sculptor Laurent Delvaux. A Rubens masterpiece, Saint Bavo's Entry into the Monastery, hangs in one of the chapels. Other treasures include a baroque-style organ built in 1623 and a crypt crammed with tapestries, church paraphernalia, and 15th- and 16th-century frescoes. There are no visits during services, and because of thefts through the years, you must purchase a Mystic Lamb ticket to see the other treasures.
- Address: St-Baafsplein, Torenrij, Gent, B9000 | Map It
- Phone: 09/269–2065
- Cost: Cathedral free; Mystic Lamb museum and crypt, €4; tower €2
- Hours: Cathedral: Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 8:30–6, Sun. 9:30–6; Nov.–Mar., daily 8:30–5. Chapel: Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 9:30–4:45, Sun. 1–4:30; Nov.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10:30–4, Sun. 1–4. Tower: Mon.–Fri. 9:30–4:35, Sat. 10–4:35, Sun. noon–4:35
- Location: Gent