Castle of the Counts

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While Gravensteen looks like a fairy tale, it hides a much darker history than you’d expect behind its medieval walls.

This Gothic 12th century castle is famed for its impressive appearance and is often listed as a must-visit when you’re in Ghent. But how much do you know about it?

Once upon a time, Gravensteen was home to the Count of Flanders and served as a symbol of their power in medieval Ghent. The Counts abandoned the Gravensteen in the 1300s. Then, this castle became a courthouse and prison. After the gavel swung and someone was found guilty, they were dragged below the castle to the prison. Many were even tortured. Eventually, this all stopped but Gravensteen gained a reputation as a dark symbol of the city. People wanted to knock it down!

But, historians argued that Gravensteen should stay. Thanks to the efforts of preservation groups and history enthusiasts, you can visit this well-preserved medieval castle. With the audio guide, you’ll spend about 1 ½ hours exploring Gravensteen.

  • Audio Guide Recommended: while we don’t always personally like audio guides, here’s one where we do recommend it! Good story telling about the castle’s history and the various Counts of Flanders. It’s pretty common to see people chuckling as they walk around and listen to the audio guide. The narrator does a pretty good job of bringing the castle to life, and it’s included in the ticket price so check it out (English & Dutch available).
  • Medieval History: the castle was built in 1180. They’ve preserved a lot of the torture equipment (guillotine included), medieval armor and weapons, plus the stone toilets. There aren’t many well-preserved medieval castles around, so it’s worth seeing just for its history
  • Rooftop Views: go up the small staircase inside the castle for great city views of Ghent from the castle roof
  • Winter Wonderland Castle: View the castle transformed into a magical winter palace around Christmas! From December through January you can experience enchanting lights, festive decorations, and a cozy Christmas martket.
Updated on 25 November 2021

Tips and Tricks

  • Use the audio guide if you can. It’s included in the ticket
  • Buy your tickets online to skip ahead of the queues
  • Lots of rooms and staircases (not the best for those with mobility issues!)
  • Torture displays are grisly and keeps it real. Cool to see but not super kid friendly
  • Rent a kayak at Kayak Korenlei or rent a boat and paddle your way up to see the castle up close from the riverside.

Getting There

  • By Car: close to car park Parking Reep
  • By Bus: close to bus stop Gent Gravensteen. Bus N4 stops here
  • By Tram: short walk away from tram stop Gent Lippensplein. Trams 1, 2, and 4 stop here

Open everyday, 10:00 to 18:00 (last tickets at 16:40)


All seasons


Adults 12€, Kids (under 12) free, special discount rates available


Open; national COVID measures apply. Book your tickets online

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    Get yoru tickets to Gravensteen on their website
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