A lively city can be recognised by its street art. If that’s true, then Ghent is more vibrant than ever before! The rebellious city’s streets have always been a much loved canvas for imaginative paintings full of colour and emotions. We bet you will have a completely different opinion about street art after this walk.
Be inspired by Ghent’s ‘Sorry, not sorry' street art plan to walk or cycle along the colourful graffiti art in the city. The Ghent Guides are happy to give you a little sneak peek.
3,3 km - 4400 steps
Haitham Haddad and Sarah Yu Zeebroek
You start the walk across from the iconic VOORUIT building, which was built in the early 20th century for the factory workers in Ghent by the cooperative Samenwerkende Maatschappij Vooruit. This building currently houses the Arts Centre VIERNULVIER, which offers various art disciplines a platform.
Tip. This historical complex was opened in 1913 by the cooperative Samenwerkende Maatschappij Vooruit. It was a place where workers could go for leisure, entertainment and learning after having finished their shift in one of the many factories in Ghent. Be sure to drop by for a snack or a drink or enjoy the beautiful outdoor area.
The façade of the Arts Centre ViernulVier is decorated with a striking mural in soft hues. This is a work by the artists Haitham Haddad and Sarah Yu Zeebroek, daughter of the Flemish artist and cartoonist Kamagurka.
The tones of yellow and blue attract your attention. What exactly it is you see on the wall leaves room for interpretation, but one thing is certain: it’s an absurd scene.
Sarah Yu Zeebroek is the daughter of Kamagurka, but she is mainly known as a member of the unconventional synth-electronic band Hong Kong Dong. She also works as an illustrator. In 2022 she participated in a Ghent project to add colour to outdoor electrical enclosures in the Sluizeken-Tolhuis-Ham neighbourhood. Haitham Haddad is an internationally active Palestinian artist.
- More information about Sara Yu Zeebroek is available on http://cargocollective.com/sarahyuzeebroek/about
- More information about Haitham Haddad can be found on https://mnjnk.com/
If you continue in the direction of Sint-Pietersplein square, you will notice the beautifully restored building of the newspaper ‘De Vooruit’ on your right-hand side. The editorial staff found a home in this building in 1930. The façade remained lit at night to show that work went on day and night. The architect is Fernand Brunfaut.
Walk towards café De Hoeve. A creation by Cee Pil can be spotted on a narrow side wall of this café. The surrealistic images of 2 animals flowing into one another are very recognisable. Here he painted the ‘Baterpillarman’: Batman in the shape of a caterpillar.
A Squid called Sebastian
This artist was born in Boston in 1981, but moved to Ghent as a child. He graduated as a Master in cartoon drawing at Luca School of Arts. He also designs tattoos. We can see people with snorkels reading in a living room, which is a reference to the Coronavirus lockdown.
At number 91, you can see a work by Lobster Robin. He is an Antwerp native with his home base in Ghent and his message is to remain humble, appreciate nature and open your eyes. Lobster brings some street art colours to the otherwise fairly grey student district.
Tip. Dating from 1942, the Booktower is an iconic building designed by Henry Van de Velde. The Ghent University library is accommodated in the 66 m high building. There is a bronze Fox Terrier all the way at the top, but you have to know it. ?
At Hoveniersberg, you can see a work by Kitsune Jolene. This young woman from East Flanders mainly paints portraits of women, animals, fauna and flora mixed with references to other cultures and mythology. Her pseudonym Kitsune, for example, is a reference to a Japanese mythological fox that can live up to a hundred years and changes shape into a young woman.
- More info: www.kitsunejolene.com.
Past the bus stop, another work from Kitsune Jolene. It’s a comforting image of a student, wrapped up in a warm blanket in a room with sansevierias.
At the end of Sint-Pietersnieuwsstraat, cross the street and go to Jacob Jordaensstraat via Florbertusstraat and Kazernestraat. This is where we can see a creation by Smithe. Smithe, alias Luis Enrique, lives and works in Mexico City and draws inspiration from Japanese animation, 1950s graphic style and science fiction films. Do we see one face? Or more than one? This work was created for Ghent's first 'sorry not sorry' festival in 2016.
On the corner of Victor Hortastraat, you can see a large work by Jesus Benitez. The artist, also known as Dhear, lives in Mexico City as well. He draws inspiration from science fiction and outer space to depict the future. Do we see a naked young lady, or are there more of them? Will you count them?
Tip. Two water towers from 1880 and a new one. Architects G. and D. Bontinck (1975-1977) designed the new tower. The two old water towers belong to the oldest ones in Belgium: two iron basins rest on heavy brick outer walls and have top ventilation to avoid underpressure when emptied. They are also protected by woodwork.
Walk to Citadelpark via Kunstlaan. On the side of the S.M.A.K museum, you can see a work by Danny Matthys, which is not graffiti, but art: ‘Olam’ consists of dozens of life-size busts in pigmented concrete and is anchored to the left side of the museum’s façade. ‘Olam’ literally means "crossing boarders”. It was originally meant to be a recumbent work, but it was mounted to the façade at the request of Jan Hoet.
Tip. On the Citadel gate, you can read: Nemo me impune lacesset (Nobody will taunt me unpunished). These strong words were left here by William I, king of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1815 until 1830.
Follow the path, first to the right and then to the left. The side wall of the SMAK museum features a work by Pieter Rosseel that contains references to images, shapes and icons from architecture. This work was commissioned by nucleo.be
Cross Emile Clauslaan to the botanical garden and the Ghent University Museum (GUM) An enormous work by Roa can be seen on the side wall: He's a world famous anonymous Ghent artist. He designed this stack of skeletons specifically for the museum. From top to bottom, you can see an elephant, a rhino, a grizzly bear and an okapi. www.gum.be; wikipedia/roa
Take your time to discover the beautiful botanical garden.
Tip. Over 10,000 plant species can be found in the 2.75 hectare botanical garden. During your visit, you can learn about special plants or just take a relaxing walk in a beautiful setting.
Walk via Hofbouwlaan to Ter Platen, cross the bridge and go down the stairs. You can find a JAM here, which is a collection of works, in this case by Bue, Mc Gyver, Resto, Duder1, Katoir, Kymo One, Malf and others. On the other side, you’ll see a very long pencil created by an unknown artist.
Tip. Across the street, you can see the Peperbus (pepper pot) tower, which got its name from its typical shape. This used to be a guard tower that was part of the 16th-century city wall. The current ring road around Ghent roughly follows the route of those old city walls.
A Squid Called Sebastian
Walk in the direction of Stalhof via the Muinkschelde canal and the Muinkbrug bridge. You can discover a creation by A Squid Called Sebastian on the rear wall of the Liberal Archives Liberas. This work was created at the request of the Overpoort tappers.
You will arrive at Overpoort; turn to the left into the street. After having walked about 500m, you will encounter the work by street artist Lindert Steegen on your right-hand side: he brightened up the steps and the square in front of the shopping centre with a work of 300 square metres and 15 different colours. The design is inspired by the comings and goings of the many people who access the square from all sides.
The work is entitled ‘Buiten de Lijnen’ (Outside the Lines) and is meant as an eye-catching link between the city centre and the museum quarter along the inner ring road. The walking lines created by people are the basis of the composition. The work also includes the image of a dove, an animal that is a recurring theme in Steegen’s work as a symbol of freedom, openness, spreading your wings and going on a voyage of discovery.
Anouk De Clercq
You end up in Overpoort, where you turn right towards Sint-Pietersplein square. You have now reached Ghent's highest point (29 m)! Walk to the gate around the steps leading to the underground car park. Multimedia artist Anouk De Clercq created a library filled with books on one of the car park's walls. She makes the connection between knowledge and historical meaning with this work. www.portapak.be/wikipedia
Do you still have some time left?
Take a look in the beautiful Our Lady of St Peter's Church. This church is considered one of the masterpieces of architect Pieter Huyssens, who drew inspiration from St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It’s deemed to be one of the highlights of baroque architecture in the Southern Netherlands.