St Bavo’s Cathedral has reopened its doors after years of renovation, welcoming visitors for a truly incredible experience. Not only have the panels of the famous Ghent Altarpiece been restored, but a new visitor centre now welcomes more visitors in better conditions. The experience is taken to a whole new level using modern technology and showcasing the authentic art treasures held within the Cathedral in all their glory.
1. Ghent Alterpiece
The Ghent Altarpiece, also called the ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers was completed in 1432 and is recognised worldwide as a great work of art and one of the most influential paintings ever made. Its 18 panels depict scenes from the Bible, as well as a portrait of the church warden, Joos Vijd, who commissioned the altarpiece, and his wife Elisabeth Borluut. However one panel is a replica, due to a theft in 1934 which saw two of the panels stolen, only for one to be anonymously returned and the other to remain an intriguing mystery to this day. Restoration on the masterpiece started back in 2012 and has recently been completed, showing the work at its very best.
2. A new visitor experience
The Mystic Lamb is not the only attraction to have undergone some impressive renovations. The cathedral itself now has a brand new visitor centre, located within the spacious Crypt below the building, whilst a glass lift tower has also been added to the side of St Bavo’s, making all four floors 100% accessible to everyone.
The experience begins with an augmented reality tour in the crypt where visitors can see the many interesting facts and details about the Mystic Lamb and the life of Jan Van Eyck projected right before their eyes, and culminates in the opportunity to admire the restored Mystic Lamb in its new bright setting.
3. Augmented reality
Through the use of augmented reality glasses, the new visitor centre enables people to travel back to the distant past in the cathedral’s crypt and be witness to the tumultuous history of the Ghent Altarpiece and the cathedral, as though they were there themselves! Both the masterpiece and the magnificent building are brought to life down to the smallest detail, making the visit truly unforgettable. Young families can enjoy a family tour of the visitor centre, a playful way to learn more about the Ghent Altarpiece and its history, and which is available in Dutch, French and English and is suitable for children from the age of 6 onwards. Take a look at the video below to get a sneak peek.