5 eccentric buildings in Ghent

1) Winter Circus

Forgotten and abandoned for many years, the Winter Circus has been sensitively renovated to create a vibrant tech and culture hub. Built in 1893, the vast arena was originally a circus with stables for horses, a ramp for elephants and seating for 3400 spectators. Abandoned in 1944, it was turned into a garage and later a warehouse for a vintage car collection. It has been brilliantly restored to create an enormous space with rough brick walls and dramatic lighting. It is now occupied by tech companies, an underground concert hall and a pop-up restaurant.

interior of Winter Circus in Ghent

Silvie Bonne

Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 9


2) Masons' Guild House

The Masons’ Guild Hall was built in a flamboyant Gothic style opposite the Sint- Niklaaskerk to show off the stone carving skills of the city’s masons. It eventually disappeared behind a later building. People thought it had been demolished and so in 1913 a replica was constructed at Graslei 8. The original was later discovered during building work and six modern dancing figures were added at the top by the Ghent sculptor and singer Walter De Buck.

six decorative statues on top of the Masons' Guild House in Ghent

Cataloniëstraat 1

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3) Venetian Façades

Not many people notice the curious white façade in the Lammerstraat built in Venetian Gothic style. It was constructed in 1851 to provide a single façade for six shops. Nothing has survived at street level, but the upper two floors have retained the strange Venetian windows and Byzantine details.

Venetian Façade at Lammerstraat, Ghent

Lammerstraat 1

4) Former Intellect Bookshop

A strange corner building with round windows and organic brick details overlooks on a small square in the heart of Ghent. It was originally an art bookshop designed in 1980 by Denis Van Impe. The architect wanted to create a building that would reflect the past, present and future. He added an interesting round relief on the side wall that illustrates past beauty (a naked woman) and future progress (an astronaut). The building is currently occupied by a restaurant.

round curves of the former Intellect Bookshop building in Ghent

Evert Vandeweghe

Kalandestraat 1

5) Het Pianohuis

This curious corner house was built in 2007 as a guest house for pianists. The architect designed the oddly shaped windows to suggest the shape of a grand piano.

Stoppelstraat 35

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