The steeple of St Michael’s Church should have stood out above all the others but history decided otherwise: the 134 metre high planned ‘monument of triumph’, has remained at a paltry 46 metres.

Construction of this late-Gothic church started in 1440, but remarkably it was not completed until 1825. A design from 1662 planned a 134-metre tower (by way of comparison, the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral is only 89 metres tall), but this ambitious plan was shelved due to a lack of funds. What should have been a triumphal monument with a majestic tower became after all a church with a flat-roofed tower of 46 metres. This turned out to be quite fortunate in the end, as major ground-stability problems were discovered at a later date. The location would never have
been able to support a heavier weight.

Did you know: The brewers’ guild, which was the main sponsor of this church, offered the insurgents free beer during the iconoclastic riots in the hope of distracting them from their destructive activities and saving the interior of the church.

Famous artwork

The church contains numerous paintings and sculptures by famous masters. One of the most famous works of Flemish Painting can be found here: Golgotha by Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641). The painter created this work in 1630 for St Michael's Church. The painting shows Christ on the cross, flanked by Mary, John, Mary Magdalene and some soldiers.

A remarkable work of art is located in the chapel of the Brotherhood of Loreto. The marble sculpture of Mary with the infant Jesus was made by Rombaut Pauwels (1625-1692). Inspired by the similar sculpture by Michelangelo (1475-1564) on display in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges.

Monumentale Kerken Gent

The non-profit organisation Monumental Churches of Ghent tries to make the patrimony and cultural heritage of Ghent's central churches accessible to the general public.

Find out more about how the non-profit organisation MKG works

Monumentale Kerken Gent

Ghent's horizon is characterised by its many churches and their towers. This brochure takes you on a tour of Ghent's nine Monumental Churches. You will discover more about their rich history and the many works of art they house.

Available in 5 different languages: Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish

A paper version of this brochure is also available in the tourist office.

The information continues beneath the illustrations.