Today, Saint Peter’s Abbey is an inspiring meeting and congress venue that will surely leave a lasting impression on your attendees. Take the Chapter Room with its gothic windows: a magical place for any plenary session. Or the light-drenched break-out rooms, all overlooking the enclosed garden. Or the Romanesque crypt - possibly the most extraordinary space you’ll ever have dinner in. All the rooms are cosy and comfortable and dispose of up-to-date meeting equipment. And then there’s the grandeur of the historic buildings.
A congress venue going back to the 7th century
Saint Peter’s Abbey goes back to the 7th century, to the earliest days of Christianity in Flanders. It was sacked by the Vikings in the 8th century, but grew to be a place of tremendous political, economic and religious power during the Middle Ages. The monks owned villages and large parcels of land both at home and abroad, even overseas in England. They developed methods to turn woods, heather and marshes into fertile farmland, becoming incredibly wealthy along the way. During the wars of religion of the 16th century, the abbey was partially destroyed, but the monks managed to rebuild it on an even grander scale – not as an austere monastery, but as a luxurious, palatial building. Just like all church properties, the abbey was confiscated after the French Revolution. It served as a museum for a short while, and then became a military barracks until WWII. After the war, the abbey was restored to its former glory – a project that took decades of work.
A true part of city life
Besides being a one-of-a-kind congress and meeting venue, Saint Peter’s Abbey is a true part of Ghent city life. It has a romantic, large garden at the back where people come to relax or enjoy a picknick (by the way: the produce of the orchard, vineyard, and herb garden is used in the catering). It is also a cultural hotspot, where you can visit exhibitions or learn more about the history of the site. In Pietersbar with its wonderful terrace, you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a light lunch. The bar employs people with disabilities, as the Abbey aims to be green, inclusive, and durable.
Basically, you never have to leave the abbey, but it would be a pity if you didn’t. Ghent is a great place to discover: take a dive in its café life, go eat out in one of its great restaurants, or visit its historic buildings and museums – you won’t be disappointed!