The Ghent Altarpiece aka the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is the finest art treasure and the greatest source of pride in the city. Three hours aren’t enough to tell you all about this masterpiece, and I wouldn’t try to do the impossible. Rather than a lecture, my Ghent Altarpiece tour is a story told in an urban setting about the altarpiece and the era it was created in.
The tour starts on Saint-Michael’s bridge in downtown Ghent. We will stroll around for approximately two hours, then spend the rest of the time in Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, where the Ghent Altarpiece was installed after its completion in 1432. Almost six centuries later during which it was sold and bought back, hidden and found, stolen and returned, this unrivaled masterpiece continues to call Saint Bavo’s Cathedral its home.
You will learn why the Altarpiece was created, what messages its panels convey, and what makes these panels so special indeed that Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin all coveted them. You will get acquainted with the people who commissioned the masterpiece, the painters who created it, the era they lived in, and what Ghent was like at that time. This tour is for those looking to go beyond the painting’s two dimensions and dig deeper to unravel its messages that – while obvious to the 15th century Flemish people – are a mystery for contemporary visitors.